Blog Post

African Health Tech Summit 2023

Nov 10, 2023

African Health Tech Summit 2023 Gathers Attendees From Around the World to Shape the Future of Digital Health

On October 17-19, The Commons Project (TCP) in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, met with key stakeholders in Kigali, Rwanda for the Africa Health Tech Summit (AHTS). The teams met with leaders from NGOs, funders, implementing partners, and governments, and conducted various plenary sessions. Altogether, AHTS held four co-creation workshops, three field visits, 25 sessions, and hosted over 50 speakers on various topics related to digital health in Africa and the financial inclusion of the youth and women.

Key Sessions convened by TCP and the Mastercard Foundation: 

1. Putting People First: The State and Future of Person-centered Digitized Primary Health in Africa

In this session moderated by Zhenya Lindgardt, CEO of TCP, participants discussed the role of digitizing primary health in enabling digital health services and creating a sustainable longer-term market to fund jobs in digital health. 

Key Points:

  • Despite barriers such as infrastructure gaps, public funding to advance primary health digitization must remain a priority alongside electricity and connectivity.
  • User adoption and patient digital health literacy training is essential for the successful implementation of person-centered healthcare. 
  • Countries should adopt and invest in implementing open interoperability data standards. They should vet and select preferred primary health care EMR systems and adopt data privacy and security policies, as well as digital health records policies toward individual access.
  • Education should be tailored to job specifications to ensure any certification given is used. 

2. AFHIRing Up Africa’s Healthcare: Interoperability in Digital Health

This session was moderated by Steve Wanyee of Health Informatics in Africa (HELINA), with the focus of discussion on enablers and blockers of interoperability and the importance of governments taking a leadership role in prioritizing and setting those standards for its country’s digital health sector.

Key Points:

  • Consensus on the HL7 FHIR data standard as ideal for adoption and implementation across countries in Africa is our greatest weapon against fragmentation in healthcare 
  • Partner organizations should actively promote and implement interoperability standards 
  • Patient-owned health data could be supreme example of interoperability and HL7 FHIR’s function
  • Stakeholders should urgently work together and with member states to advocate and convene around improving interoperability and implementing data standards. 

3. Primary Health Digitization Collaborative Co-Creation Workshop

The co-creation workshop brought together 38 participants who are implementation partners, funders and government representatives. 

In the 2-hour session, participants discussed, developed insights, and started forming recommendations around the necessary requirements to digitize primary health, key cost drivers, and a common goal by 2030 for the PWG. This workshop made for a very positive step toward PWG progress on its mandate and deliverables. At the end of the workshop, TCP committed to recording and synthesizing the responses from the group to categorize into recommendations for the next meeting. 

Key Points:

  • Patient-centered care is about making patients more in control of their data and ensuring that services are easy to understand and accessible.
  • Primary health digitization should encompass a wide range of services and not just focus on health facilities. It should address health promotion, disease prevention, treatment, and more.
  • Commitment and patience for long-term digital transformation efforts are necessary. Aligning dedicated stakeholders, coordinating efforts, and having clear roles and responsibilities is essential in driving the digital transformation process.
  • Ensuring unique identification of persons, facilities, processes, and products is important for accurate record-keeping.

Following a successful AHTS 2023, it is clear that primary health digitization is a main goal for various organizations. There continues to be resounding support for our person-centered health model and the digital health sector’s potential to drive the financial inclusion of the youth and women, and youth appropriately had a larger stage at AHTS than they have had in the past. TCP and the Mastercard Foundation heard from many young digital health entrepreneurs who are eager to enter the space and share their invention and scale. Our next step is to continue uniting the power of digital transformation with cutting-edge healthcare solutions.