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How eHealth Africa supports Universal Health Coverage across Africa

By Emerald Awa- Agwu

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April 7 is World Health Day and this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) is focusing on Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

WHO: Universal Health Coverage - What does it mean?

Good health is crucial for developing economies and reducing poverty. Governments and decision-makers need to strengthen health systems so that people can get the healthcare and services that they need to maintain and improve their health, and stay productive.  However, improving access to health services is incomplete if people plunge further into poverty because of the cost of health care. WHO estimates that over 800 million people spend at least 10% of their household budget on health care which is indicative of catastrophic health expenditure (CHE).  CHE can mean that households have to cut down on or forfeit necessities such as food and clothing, education for their children or even sell household goods.

One of the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 3—Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages— is to achieve universal health coverage by 2030. Therefore, achieving UHC has become a major goal for health system reforms in many countries, especially in Africa.

Through our projects and solutions, eHealth Africa supports countries across Africa to strengthen the six pillars of universal health coverage.

1. Health Financing for Universal Health Coverage

WHO recommends that no less than 15% of national budgets should be allocated to health. We believe that accurate and up to date data, can ensure that available health funds are better allocated. In Nigeria,  we worked with several partners to map and collect geospatial data through the Geo-Referenced Infrastructure and Demographic Data for Development (GRID3) program. Data relating to over 22 points of interest categories including health facilities, was collected across 25 states and the Federal Capital Territory in Nigeria. This data helps decision-makers to distribute resources and plan interventions that target the people who need it most.

2. Essential Medicines and Health products

Vaccines are some of the most essential health commodities

Vaccines are some of the most essential health commodities

Countries decide what medicines and health commodities are essential based on the illnesses suffered by the majority or significant sections of their population. They must also ensure that quality, safe and effective medicines, vaccines, diagnostics, and other medical devices are readily available and affordable.

When essential medicines and health products are procured, it is important to maintain proper records and to ensure that health facilities do not run out of stock. eHealth Africa created Logistics Management Information System (LoMIS), a suite of mobile and web applications, LoMIS Stock and LoMIS Deliver that address challenges in the supply of essential medicines and health products such as vaccines and drugs. In Kano State, health workers at the facility level use the LoMIS Stock mobile application to send weekly reports on the vaccine stock levels, essential drug stock levels and the status of cold chain equipment. Supervisors can view the reports in near real-time through the LoMIS Stock Dashboard and plan deliveries of medicines and health products to prevent stockouts of vaccines and essential drugs, using LoMIS Deliver. LoMIS Deliver reduces errors by automating the process of ledger entry to capture the number of vaccines on-hand at the facility and the quantity delivered.

3. Health systems governance

Health system governance according to the WHO is governance undertaken with the aim of protecting and promoting the health of the people. It involves ensuring that a strategic policy framework exists and providing oversight to ensure its implementation. Relevant policies, regulations, and laws must be put in place to ensure accountability across the health system as a whole (public and private health sector actors alike).  Effective health systems governance can only be achieved with the collaboration of stakeholders and partners who will support the government by providing reliable information to inform policy formulation and amendments. Over the years, we have worked with several partners to provide this support.

4. Health workforce

Health systems can only deliver care through the health workforce

Health systems can only deliver care through the health workforce

The attainment of UHC is dependent on the availability, accessibility, acceptability, and quality of health workers1. They must not only be equitably distributed and accessible by the population, but they must also possess the required knowledge and skills to deliver quality health care that marries contextual appropriateness with best practices.

Recognizing this, eHA supports the Kano State Primary Health Care Management Board (KSPHCMB) to improve health service delivery by providing health workers in Kano State with access to texts, audio courses, and training modules through an eLearning solution. Through the eLearning web and mobile-enabled platform, health workers can gain useful skills and knowledge on a wide range of topics. Read about the pilot of the eLearning solution here.

In Sierra Leone, we work with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS), U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) to implement the Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP). Through FETP, public health workers at the district and national level gain knowledge about important epidemiological principles and are equipped with skills in case/ outbreak investigations, data analysis, and surveillance. This positions Sierra Leone to meet the Global Health Security Agenda target of having 1 epidemiologist per 200,000 population. In addition, we support Sierra Leone’s MoHS to build additional capacity in frontline Community Health Officers (CHOs), who are based at the Chiefdom level through the management and leadership training program. CHOs are often the first point of contact for primary care for the local population and the MLTP program equips them to provide better health services and improve health outcomes at their facilities.

5. Health Statistics and Information Systems

In line with our strategy, we create tools and solutions that help health systems across Africa to curate and exchange data and information for informed decision making and future planning.  The Electronic Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (eIDSR) solution has been used in Sierra Leone and Liberia to transform data collection, reporting, analysis, and storage for a more efficient response and surveillance of priority diseases. Its integration with DHIS2, a health information system used in over 45 countries, makes it easy for health system decision makers to visualize data and gain insight into the state of public health. Read more about our other solutions Aether and VaxTrac. In addition, we also support the Nigeria Center for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) by creation and maintenance of a data portal which serves as a repository for all datasets that are relevant to detecting, responding and preventing disease outbreaks in Nigeria.

6. Service delivery and safety

Staff at the Kano Lab

Staff at the Kano Lab

The Service delivery and safety pillar encompasses a large spectrum of issues including patient safety and risk management, quality systems and control, Infection prevention and control, and innovations in service delivery. With our experience working to respond to polio and ebola virus emergencies across Africa, we support health systems to mount prevention and control programs at the national and facility level. We are also committed to creating new technologies and solutions that can help health providers to develop better models of healthcare. We also construct health facilities ranging from clinics to laboratory and diagnostic facilities that utilize state of the art technology to correctly diagnose diseases such as Sickle Cell Disease, Meningitis, and Malaria.

Our Sokoto Meningitis Lab has been at the forefront of meningitis testing and surveillance in Northern Nigeria, offering reliable and prompt diagnoses to support the prevention of future outbreaks.

eHealth Africa continues to work with governments, communities and health workers so that everyone can obtain the quality health care, in a prompt manner and from health workers and facilities within their communities, thus achieving universal health coverage.

Meet the Team: Muhammed-Naziru Halliru

Meet Muhammed-Naziru Halliru, a State Coordinator with our program delivery team!

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Naziru is involved in planning, organizing and delivering activities to ensure that the objectives of the Geo-Referenced Infrastructure and Demographic Data for Development (GRID3) project are achieved. Following the mapping of the 36 states of Nigeria, he coordinated stakeholder engagement at the state level to garner government support for the use and application of geospatial data for better economic planning, resource distribution and decision making across a variety of sectors including health, education, agriculture, housing, and transport.

In addition to this, he supports capacity building activities for data managers at the State Ministry of Health, State Primary Health Care Management Board and the Health Management Information System department to equip them to manage, analyze and use the data stored on the GRID3 portal.

Although he has been with eHealth Africa for only a year, Naziru has made very significant contributions to his team and project. Under his supervision, the GRID3 project mapped 10 states across three geopolitical zones: North Central, North East, and North West and collected geospatial data on 19 point of interest categories. This data has been instrumental in improving the impact and effectiveness of polio eradication efforts in these states.

Naziru credits eHA with his new exposure and familiarity with technological tools which have enabled him to achieve his work goals more efficiently. eHA, according to him, has improved his communication and stakeholder engagement skills, which he believes will be invaluable to him in the long run.

I am particularly proud that I am now able to use modern data management systems and technologies to deliver my role successfully. My work at eHealth Africa has also given me the opportunity to meet and engage with high-profile government officials including governors to advocate for the use of reliable geospatial data for better decision- making.
— Muhammed-Naziru

Technical Career Development at eHealth Africa

Health systems, especially in within Africa, face the challenge of delivering high-quality services to an ever-growing population with limited resources. This has necessitated the development of innovative approaches to expand access to healthcare to larger numbers of people, even in the most difficult-to-reach locations. The role of electronic and mobile technologies, ranging from simple SMS messaging for reporting and complex information and data management systems for studying patterns in disease prevalence, in the transformation of healthcare delivery has become more evident.

eHealth Africa was founded in 2009, on the belief that adapting technology to meet local needs and settings, is the key to delivering better health services. A decade later and with projects such as the Geo-Referenced Infrastructure and Demographic Data for Development (GRID3) and solutions such as LoMIS Suite and Gather under our belt, eHealth Africa is an established leader in the Global Health Informatics (GHI) space.  Our approach to technology is that systems designed in proximity to the environment in which they are needed are stronger, more effective, and help close the gap between design and use.

Our GHI program spans several technical areas including software development, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) & Analytics, Information Technology & Engineering Operations, Business Analysis and DevOps Engineering. We therefore constantly seek to connect and leverage our work across focus areas while attracting and retaining the best employees. Through a more deliberate focus on employee development, we focus on building and keeping an outstanding Africa-based team to execute our work.

There’s always time to laugh when you love your job

There’s always time to laugh when you love your job

Some members of our GHI team share some of the ways that eHA supports the development of careers in tech.

Evance, Senior Software Developer in Software & Solutions Development

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Working at eHealth Africa is by far, the most rewarding career experience I have had. I joined eHA two years ago and before that, I had several years of experience developing software for customer-oriented companies. At eHealth Africa, the focus is on saving lives in the most constrained environments in Africa. Not only have I worked on many projects, all requiring different technical specifications and I have done so in three countries namely, Guinea, Liberia, and Nigeria, using some of the coolest technologies available in our age such as Big/Sensitive data management, Offline- aware apps, Biometric identification). Creating software for various contexts and needs, motivates and challenges me to be more creative and to try new methods. I have grown as a software developer because of the work that I do at eHA. It is an amazing feeling for me to see how the codes I write contribute to improving healthcare among underserved populations.
— Evance

Sandra, Senior Business Analyst in Software & Solutions Development

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As a Senior Business Analyst with the GHI program, I work in the capacity of a project manager, responsible for planning and executing a project. I am also responsible for the requirements analysis and documentation, specifications, development cycle and execution of a variety of GHI projects. eHA has provided me and my colleagues with a platform to excel. I have been given way more opportunities in just 1 year working with eHA, than in the two years I spent working with other organizations. At eHealth Africa, there are a lot of opportunities for career growth within the organization, irrespective of your tech inclination. I joined eHA as a Business Analyst in 2017 and by the end of 2018, I had been promoted twice. I have worked on many projects and last year, I was made the project lead for an eLearning initiative for employees and clients. Thanks to eHealth Africa, I and other colleagues were trained and have received the Projects in Controlled Environments (PRINCE2) certification, which is invaluable for a career in project management. The organization expects great results from their staff but what is most important is that eHA pushes and supports us to achieve our personal development and career goals.
— -Sandra

Oluwafemi, Associate Manager, DevOps Engineering

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DevOps is a growing culture which was born out of the need to roll out incremental changes to software several times daily. In the past, it was not scalable or automated; now with new technologies in cloud computing, automation and deployment, development and operations process are easier and more cost-cutting.
At eHA, we use open source technologies to solve health-related challenges in contexts which are constantly evolving. It is very important for the solutions that we create to move from writing to pushing to production within minutes. DevOps simply eliminates the barrier between the people who develop software and those who operate it, allowing the development of solutions that integrate functionality with enhanced usage and minimal error. I joined eHA about 2 years ago as a DevOps engineer and in that time, I’ve worked with the team on the best and most cost-effective way to evolve and improve our solutions at a faster pace.
The best part of working in eHA, for me, is that there’s always room to learn and grow. I am continuously exchanging knowledge and learning about the latest technology trends to keep up with the ever-growing DevOps culture.
— Oluwafemi

Detan, Associate Manager in Geographic Information Systems

There is a tendency for techies to be somewhat distant from the clients who use their software or solutions. eHA allows members of the GHI team to be seconded to other eHA offices in Berlin, Sierra Leone, and Liberia and to clients in different parts of the continent (Chad, Cameroon, Niger) in order to ensure that the team is fully embedded with clients and fellow technical consultants. This provides a deeper grasp of the context and increases empathy towards the client and the work that we do, making work enjoyable, irrespective of the inherent challenges and risks in implementing a project.
In addition, jobs roles within the organization and division allow for flexibility and adaptability to suit project requirements and career goals. For example, business analysts may double as project managers on a small project, and there are opportunities for project managers and UI/UX designers to transition into product management roles if they are interested in such career paths, while technical leads may also double as technical project managers if need be. Members of the GHI team attend and plan conferences, hackathons and other meetups within the technology industry. This helps our team stay abreast with new trends in our field so they can improve themselves, and deliver better results.
— Detan

eHealth Africa is committed not just to delivering data-driven solutions that address systems-level issues across Africa, but to providing career and learning opportunities to tech enthusiasts. We are passionate about sharing our knowledge, experience, and skills with the next generation in order to inspire positive change. eHealth Africa frequently hosts tech meetups in Kano and Berlin to bring together individuals who are interested in developing technological tools for development.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in tech or global health informatics with an established leader in the field, visit the careers page on our website to keep up with internship or job opportunities.

Welcoming Micheline Ntiru to eHealth Africa’s Board of Directors

At eHealth Africa, our greatest strength is our people. We believe in attracting and working with passionate, motivated individuals who add value to the work that we do to build stronger health systems across Africa. We are pleased to announce the appointment of Micheline Ntiru as a member of eHA’s Board of Directors.

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Micheline joins Andrew Karlyn, My T. Le and our Executive Directors, Evelyn Castle and Adam Thompson to provide professional governance, mentorship to senior leadership, guidance on critical organizational functions, and global representation in order to support and strengthen eHA.

Micheline has 20 years of experience in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) growth, impact investment, sustainability, and public health management globally. She is a coach and business facilitator for the SEED Program at Stanford University’s Global Business School, an initiative to transform business and leadership practice among high-performing CEOs of SMEs in Africa. In addition, she provides portfolio and deal structuring advice to private equity and venture capital investors in Europe and North America.

Within the public health space, she has held several management and advisory positions with leading nonprofit organizations such as Care International and Helen Keller International, on thematic areas such as maternal and child health, Malaria and HIV/AIDS and public health nutrition.

To learn more about Micheline and the other members of our Board of Directors, visit the “Our People” page on our website. We look forward to working with her in the months and years to come.

Internship Spotlight: Justice Agbadu's Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Intern with eHealth Africa

By Justice Agbadu

My name is Justice Agbadu, a student of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in South Africa. As part of the Industry Immersion Program in my school, I joined eHealth Africa as an intern with the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) & Analytics department. Any student aspiring to begin a career knows that an internship is invaluable for gaining on-the-job skills, experience and for establishing necessary contacts. Internships help to integrate theoretical knowledge gained in school with day to day practical field application. An employer is more likely to hire a candidate with internship experience than someone who has no experience, especially at the entry level.

I have been with eHA for a little over five months and it has been a wonderful experience

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Here are my top 5 reasons why you should intern with eHealth Africa.

1. Working with some of the most genius minds across the world

eHealth Africa’s young, dynamic workforce is made up of smart people from countries all over the world. I have had the opportunity to work with people with varying skill sets and levels of experience in different fields and I am shocked by how much I have already learned. I am also gaining knowledge outside my field and learning about different cultures.

2. Conducive Working Environment

eHealth Africa is located on serene, beautiful grounds that relax you and make you glad to be at work. All staff members are provided with all the tools that they need to deliver the desired results. I love the fact that every department has its own feel and vibe. In my department, GIS, we are pretty laid back and you can often find us seated on bean bags analyzing geographic data collection tools. My favorite part of my work environment is the people—they are friendly and always ready to answer my numerous questions. This helped me to settle in quickly despite the fact that I had never visited Kano.

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3. Personal and professional development

One of my favorite quotes is by Mark Twain—”The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” I can definitely say that this internship at eHA has helped me discover my professional direction and career goals. This is really important because a lot of people are moving through the motions without having clearly defined goals and objectives.  I have also discovered personal skills and competencies that I never knew I possessed. eHA easily has the largest GIS team in Africa and there is always something new and challenging to work on; so I am gaining knowledge that most people don’t have access to, which positions me as a valuable asset in this field.

4. Opportunities for Career Growth

eHealth Africa’s team is spread across several countries in Africa as well as in Berlin and the US. We implement data-driven projects in five focus areas: Disease Surveillance Systems, Health Delivery Systems, Laboratory & Diagnostics Systems, Nutrition & Food Security systems, and Public Health Emergency Management Systems. This wide scope of work means that staff have various opportunities to grow and migrate within the organization. In the course of my internship, I have seen staff move to Nigeria from other country offices and vice versa. Some staff in the organization started out as interns just like me and have now become project managers. eHA is an established thought leader in the field of technology and data for health systems strengthening so I know that having this internship experience on my CV already highlights me as a valuable talent to other organization.

5. Solving Real-world Problems

eHA works to address real problems such as access to quality health care and services and nutrition. One of my favorite projects is the Vaccinator Tracking Systems, a project that captures passive tracks of vaccination teams during the Immunization Plus Days using a mobile application installed on Android phones. Using GIS technology, eHA is able to provide governments with near real-time data on the vaccination coverage during IPDs to aid planning and decision making. I am very glad that I am contributing in some way to the eradication of Polio in Nigeria. This internship experience has made me more passionate to do more to help underserved populations in Africa and to improve their quality of life.

The experience so far has been very rewarding and I look forward to more opportunities to contribute to the work at eHA.



Looking for or interested in an internship spot, visit our careers page for more information.







Internship Spotlight: Eleanor Williamson-Taylor

Eleanor Williamson-Taylor is a programs Intern at eHealth Africa (eHA) in Sierra Leone. She joined eHA in September 2018.  

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Eleanor currently works with the Public Health Workforce Development Team (PHWD). Her role involves liaising and coordinating with various PHWD stakeholders including the Directorate of Human Resources for Health, Directorate of Health Securities and Emergencies, Clinton Health Access Initiative, and U.S Centers for Disease Control (CDC), among other partners to ensure effective collaboration in developing the strategy for development of the public health workforce in Sierra Leone.

She says more in this: