The global health community is finally realizing that technology is only one piece of a digital health system. Aligning people and processes are just as important, especially given the role that both play in facilitating the uptake of new technology and promoting sustainability.
What would you do as a patient if you weren’t sure if the medicine you’re receiving is genuine? What would you do as a healthcare provider if you couldn’t find high-quality medicines to treat your patients? How then can we make sure that healthcare providers and patients have access to high-quality medication?
In Niger, where the Strengthening Partnerships, Results, and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING) project has worked to improve nutrition since 2015, MIYCN [maternal, infant, and young child nutrition] behaviors are influenced by cultural norms and practices, including polygamy and an emphasis on male decisionmaking.
In Tanzania, the delivery of lifesaving health supplies—from the Medical Stores Department in Mwanza, where the products are stored, to patients at Ukerewe District Hospital on Ukerewe Island—is a challenge. To address this, we are piloting the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver health products.
The OpenLMIS 3.3 release debuts a foundational feature set specifically for supporting immunization programs in managing the transactional movements of vaccines and cold chain inventory within multi-level supply chains. New features allow for greater visibility, accountability, and efficiency in vaccine management.
The Internet of Things is already taking off in many different areas: in healthcare with drones delivering medical supplies to remote areas; energy management systems for buildings that will automatically adjust the window blinds based on the temperature; or traffic conditions that update your Google maps and give you real-time driving directions. In Tanzania, we are using it to manage vaccines so that children can receive safe vaccinations and lead healthy lives.
Digital health tools are still seen as an add-on to an overall technical approach rather than as a critical component to achieving public health outcomes. That disconnect underlines that not only is there a benefit but there is also an imperative to better familiarize program-focused people with the current state of digital health.
The Global Digital Health Forum brought together digital health practitioners, ministry officials, and program experts from across the globe. In this blog, JSI’s Caitlin Viccora shares some of the key takeaways from the forum.