The European Space Agency (ESA) has launched the first of four feasibility studies under the Satellite-Enhanced Telemedicine and eHealth for Sub-Saharan Africa (eHSA) programme, eHealth governance. Funding for this study has been provided by the Infrastructure Trust Fund (ITF - the instrument of the wider European and African Union.s Partnership on Infrastructure) and the Government of Luxembourg through ESA and the Luxembourg Agency for Development Cooperation (LuxDev).
The dire need for a programme such as eHSA can be exemplified by the massive discrepancy between the disease burden, health workforce, and health expenditures in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Presently, the region has 25% of the world.s communicable disease burden, but only 3% of the world.s health workforce and 1% of global expenditure on healthcare. The deficits in funding and health workers challenge the provision of even basic healthcare services to a population exceeding 840 million people, thereby exacerbating the situation. The success of any approach focusing on solving these issues will depend on its capability to ensure a strong African ownership of resources, to support solutions to critical health aspects and to generate positive social and economic benefits for the population. eHealth systems are increasingly seen as a way to solve these threats, particularly in remote areas.
The first challenge to be faced by the eHSA programme is how to provide a firm foundation to provide eHealth services. A careful analysis of sub-Saharan healthcare governance is necessary to identify relevant healthcare processes, stakeholders, priorities, political and financial issues and technical complexities. Only with this perspective, it will be possible to build up compatible governance models supporting the provision of eHealth services while enabling positive benefits. Governance has to be seen as the driver of the remaining actions of the eHSA programme. Proper governance is mandatory so that the sub-Saharan community can adopt and use eHealth services, guarantee their scalability and ensure sustainability. Therefore, the governance study is seen as an essential step to ensure the success of the entire eHSA programme.
This study will be conducted by a consortium of companies led by Logica PLC, Alter Santé, ESCEM, and UNISA. It will count on the support of relevant African or African-based health organisations such as RAFT (Réseau en Afrique Francophone pour la Télémédecine), AMREF (African Medical and Research Foundation), Merlin, Le Kinkeliba, and CIDMEF (Conférence Internationale des Doyens et des Facultés de Médecine d'Expression Française).