Study on Interoperability Aspects - eHealth for Sub-Saharan Africa Programme (eHSA)

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  • ActivityFeasibility Study
  • Closing date05 June 2012

eHSA Consortium

Together with the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund (ITF - the instrument of the wider European and African Union’s Partnership on Infrastructure) and the Luxembourg Agency for Development Cooperation (LuxDev), ESA is pleased to announce the third Invitation to Tender (ITT) within the eHSA programme addressing healthcare interoperability aspects in Sub-Saharan Africa. In the frame of the phase 1 activities of the “Satellite-Ehanced Telemedicine and eHealth for Sub-Saharan Africa Programme - eHSA”, this opportunity will be opened to industry from 108 states.

About the eHSA Programme

Sub-Saharan Africa faces a number of barriers avoiding its overall development. The serious health problems which are evident across the continent are one such barrier. The poor health situation is reflected both in high concentrations of communicable diseases and the sparse average health outcomes across the populations, especially amongst disadvantaged groups such as rural dwellers, the poor, women and children.

In many places, there are insufficient human and financial resources to apply the required levels of health care needed to address these issues. This is often exacerbated in remote areas where current physical and telecommunications infrastructure have proved insufficient to provide the health care services required therefore raising significant barriers to delivery.

The Telemedicine Task Force (TTF) set up in 2006 with European organisations, African stakeholders and the World Health Organization to analyse the status, made recommendations and proposed a way for a sustainable, satellite-enhanced eHealth and telemedicine network for the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. In this respect, ESA, in collaboration with the Luxembourg Agency for Cooperation and Development and with the co-funding of the Government of Luxembourg and of the European Union Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund, has recently launched a programme (Satellite-Enhanced Telemedicine and eHealth for Sub-Saharan Africa Programme - eHSA) with the aim of enabling the development of a satellite-enhanced eHealth infrastructure for the benefit of the sub-Saharan Africa. This is a significant opportunity for the identified health needs of the region.

Satellite-based communication technologies can play a significant role especially in rural areas, where wired networks are non-existent and commercially unviable to roll out. Satellite solutions can enable a variety of services and rapidly unfold the potential of externalities, such as eLearning and eAdministration, which are of high interest for the region. The first phase of this programme is formed by four studies addressing basic issues which are critical success factors for all e-Health services development.

Study Requirements

Interoperability can be defined as "the ability of systems, units or forces to provide services and to accept services from other systems, units, or forces and to use the services so exchanged to enable them to operate effectively together". When providing eHealth services, it is important to remark that the systems, units and forces are not just technical but also human. In this context, the nature of interoperability widens automatically covering aspects such as political, organisational, social and financial. Focusing on sub-Saharan Africa, this becomes a major and a ubiquitous challenge.

In order to implement eHealth services it is important not only  to make systems work and communicate (existing and new), but also to ensure the transmitted contents have a common semantic, organizations (health service providers, healthcare professionals, authorities, health insurance schemes, etc.) must share responsibilities and workflows, countries and regions must interoperate on a political level. For example, a major constraint in the development of new health services originates in differences between health and economy sectors in many countries, showing in many cases lack of synergy.

Objectives of the study

The main objectives of the Study on Interoperability Aspects are:

  • Design a scalable and modular platform supporting a complete provicion of eHealth services for the whole sub-Saharan Africa integrating existing infrastructure with new cost-effective solutions (technical interoperability).
  • Investigate the political, organisational and financial landscape while designing this eHealth platform to ensure conformance with them (non-technical interoperability)
  • Suggest an implementation roadmap for the designed eHealth platform covering the whole sub-Saharan Africa and taking into account all the technical and non-technical interoperability aspects.

ITT documentation

Bidders from ESA Member States can download the ITT documentation via ESA's EMITS system under the reference AO 7112 (under "Open Invitations to Tender").

Bidders from EU Member States, Africa, the Caribbean, and Pacific Group Member States, can download the ITT documentation through the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund (ITF) Portal.