Presentation at the conference “E-health in Norway 2021”, November 10th 2021.
A recording of this panel can be found on our Youtube channel.
BETTEReHEALTH organised a panel discussion at the largest conference for eHealth in Norway. This conference was an important arena to be present our activities, as there are four project partners that are from Norway, and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) is an important donor in health in African countries. The panel participants were Austen Davis from Norad, Jens Kaasbøll from University of Oslo, Shegaw Anagaw Mengiste from the University of South-Eastern Norway, and Dillys Larbi from the Norwegian Centre for E-health Research. The panel discussion was moderated by the coordinator of BETTEReHEALTH, Konstantinos Antypas from SINTEF Digital. We expect that soon the video recording from the panel will be publicly available.
Austen Davis started with an orientation of how the theme of digitalisation in global health development has been evolved over the years. Based on his experience it can be seen as four phases: the 1000 flowers bloom, the strategy and key platforms, systems and inter-operability, and more recently the infrastructure approach. The first phase was based on the idea that in order to boost eHealth, investments funded many different eHealth solutions, hoping that some of them would be successful and would be widely implemented. Since neither good nor bad solutions seemed to be widely implemented, another approach was necessary. The second phase was a more systematic approach around national strategies and investments in key platforms (such as the DHIS2). That phase was followed by stronger focus on investing on systems and interoperability standards. The latest phase is the investment in digital infrastructure. The investment should go beyond the health sector, and the needs for digitalization for all sectors needs to be addressed. Digital infrastructure should be addressed in the same way the transportation infrastructure is addressed. It needs to be there for all the sectors to be able to work, and there are several benefits from the expertise and investments that can be cross-sectional. He also presented the Principles for Digital Development (https://digitalprinciples.org/) that several donors have endorsed and should endorse. The principles are:
- Design with the users
- Understand the existing ecosystem
- Design for scale
- Build for sustainability
- Be data driven
- Use open standards, open data, open source and open innovation
- Reuse and improve
- Address privacy and security
- Be collaborative
Professor Jens Kaasbøll presented DHIS2 that is used in many countries covering data from 2,4 billion people and its development is led by the University of Oslo. In addition to the technical experience developed, University of Oslo has also developed expertise in supporting the implementation of health information systems around the world, and organising and empowering local partners to participate in the implementation of DHIS2. He also presented interesting lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. It took only two days in January 2020 to adapt DHIS2 for COVID-19 surveillance in Sri Lanka, which was followed up by the development of a global version in March 2020. Although the use of DHIS2 in Norway was limited before the pandemic, it was quickly adopted and has been used by 130 municipalities (plus around 130 based on a commercial solution based on DHIS2). In total, 41 countries are using DHIS2 for COVID-19 related activities.
Ass. Professor Shegaw Anagaw Mengiste presented eHealth capacity building projects led by Norway. The University of South-Eastern Norway and their partners have already given the opportunity to 58 master and PhD students to benefit from exchange and student mobility activities. He also presented the REACH and NURTURE projects that he is leading, but also the BETTEReHEALTH project’s capacity building activities. The need for more capacity building activities in eHealth was illustrated by the fact that out of the 53 universities in Ethiopia, only a handful offer eHealth related education. Norway’s role is important in supporting those activities.
Dillys Larbi presented the international collaboration activities of the Norwegian Centre for E-health Research. The Centre has been the first WHO Collaborating Centre for Telemedicine and E-healt appointed by the WHO, and recently is also collaborating with the Polish Ministry of Health in a project that aims to use eHealth to reduce social and health inequalities in the country. In addition, the Centre is also leading BETTEReHEALTH’s Work Package related to Human Factors. Dillys Larbi that has been central in many of the activities of the Work Package also presented some key findings from the project, such as the fact that professional associations of health professionals were not involved in the development of the eHealth policies in the four African countries that are participating in the project.