In December 2016, the eHealth Africa leadership team gathered to discuss our achievements and areas of opportunity in 2017-18. We believe that stronger health systems are best achieved through systems-level, integrated approaches.
Improve both the quality and availability of health care for underserved populations, primarily through data management and logistics support to enable better decision making.
Work with stakeholders to prepare for and respond to potential and active public health emergencies in order to eliminate or lessen their negative impact on populations, primarily through the design of context-specific technological tools and smarter operations.
Provide technological tools and operational support to collect and analyze data from the field level, including hard-to-reach communities, that contributes to the detection and ultimate prevention of public health emergencies and disease outbreaks.
Build and operate effective laboratories in-country, and develop the tools and technologies needed to collect and disseminate information generated from labs in order for stakeholders to appropriately respond to public health events. Laboratory systems work in conjunction with effective field surveillance tools to classify and confirm potential threats to a population’s health.
Develop technological tools to provide nutrition stakeholders, from producer to processor to consumer, with data and systems that ensure that the most vulnerable populations in West Africa, especially women and children, have access to nutritious food.
Our successes – from surveillance of remote regions in Nigeria for children in need of immunization to completing an Ebola vaccine trial – share a common philosophical approach - a virtuous cycle: it is repeatable and each stage informs the next.
- DATA: data we gather and analyze with our health informatics team, partner data, or that we identify in the context of a given issue or project.
- INSIGHT: our local knowledge and relationships, from our employees on the ground to our connections and partnerships with local and country-level governments, and the analysis produced from gathering and reviewing data.
- EXECUTION: providing value, responsiveness, and scale - made possible by regular intervals of considering data and insight together.
Core Competencies to Support the Strategic Model:
We recognize that maintaining the strength of this virtuous cycle requires us to continuously cultivate core competencies in the organization. These competencies include, for example:
- global health informatics
- management and coordination
- research and learning
- training and skill development
Maintaining and strengthening these competencies is a key organizational priority for the coming years.
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. We therefore constantly seek to connect and leverage our work across focus areas.
Strategic Model in Action: Polio Vaccination Tracking in Northern Nigeria
Prior to this program, vaccination teams who went door-to-door across rural villages and large cities to find and immunize every child had to rely on hand-drawn maps and often imprecise settlement and population targets. As a consequence, it was impossible to accurately assess where children still needed vaccines.
Using a combination of satellite imagery and field data collectors, eHealth Africa worked with government partners to build a basemap of the entire north of Nigeria. Our geographic information systems team extracted features from the imagery, and our field staff traversed the country to collect geotagged settlement names and points of interest that could help vaccinators better find their way. We then gave GPS-enabled smartphones to vaccination teams during immunization campaigns, matching up the tracks they created with the basemap to get an accurate assessment of vaccine coverage.
Our experience working as an implementer and a leader across health systems delivery, emergency response, and supply chain management tells us that without a unified approach to strengthening the health systems overall, programs are destined to be ineffective, costly, and slow.
We will use the strategic model to encourage integration across programs and provide value, responsiveness, and scale in our work. Further, we will maintain quality and impact, in part, by vetting our participation in projects using the following rules:
We can do the work better than anyone else.
The project is driven by impact on beneficiaries.
The work is transformational.
We will develop an operating plan to help us stay focused on the important tasks.