GSMA, Africa CDC bet on health tech for Africa

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 02 Mar 2023

Mobile World Congress 2023: Telecoms industry body the GSM Association (GSMA) and Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) will work together to advance mobile connectivity to support Africa’s most significant healthcare challenges.

This, after the organisations signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) this week at MWC Barcelona.

Africa CDC is a specialised technical institution of the African Union (AU) with a mandate to strengthen the capacity and capability of Africa’s public health institutions, as well as build partnerships to detect and respond quickly to disease threats and outbreaks.

According to the GSMA, the MOU is intended to provide a partnership framework for the organisations on a range of priorities, spanning digital strategy, policy and governance frameworks across the continent, to drive adoption of mobile technologies with potential to strengthen Africa’s health security.

Furthermore, the agreement will see the GSMA work closely with Africa CDC on HealthConnekt Africa, a new initiative to connect all health facilities and workforce in Africa to the internet by 2030.

The initiative will start with a small group of AU member states and communities, which will see their health facilities connected to the internet and health workers equipped with smart devices. This will allow them to improve the quality of care provided to clients through access to vital online resources.

The partners will also work together on promoting home-grown health tech innovations and bringing together the public health and tech communities, to chart ways of accelerating the digital transformation of the health sector in Africa.

“Connectivity and digital innovation are at the core of our digital transformation strategy. Access to the internet is a key enabler of our vision to extend universal quality care to all by 2030,” stated Dr Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, Africa CDC acting director.

“We look forward to working with members of the GSMA to bridge the digital divide that still limits the reach and impact of our health workforce.”

Both parties have agreed to collaborate in the design, development and promotion of technology policies, initiatives and investments that will strengthen health systems and, ultimately, improve the lives and livelihoods of African citizens.

The aim is to accelerate the adoption of digital technologies in support of public health objectives of the AU member states, including the enablement of continuity of care across borders.

Angela Wamola, head of the GSMA in Sub-Saharan Africa, added: “While mobile growth across the region has been phenomenal over the past two decades, more needs to be done to harness the power of the technology across Africa’s healthcare sector.”

“Bringing together expertise and resources will help establish a powerful new infrastructure, providing African healthcare workers access to the information they need in a timely fashion and the intelligence necessary to help prevent the spread of disease across international borders.”