eHealth programmes in Africa lack support from governments

Research and consultancy firm Frost & Sullivan has reported that eHealth in Africa will continue to face great challenges unless governments make efforts to support it.


According to Frost and Sullivan, healthcare delivery is a complex process and eHealth interventions have been lost in this complexity.

“Although many African countries have formally adopted eHealth policies, very scant progress has been made in terms of project implementation,” Frost & Sullivan’s healthcare industry analyst Tionotenda Sachikonye said.

“In the past five years, a significant majority of eHealth and telemedicine projects in Africa have failed to take off, and 80 percent of the active projects are still at the pre-implementation or trial stage, many years after project initiation. South Africa alone has spent between R4-R6 billion (US$450 million to US$675 million) on eHealth pilot projects.

“Progress has been made, however, as South Africa is starting to quantify benefits of eHealth interventions, which will go a long way in presenting cost effectiveness of eHealth interventions,” he added.

In the past, Africa has seen many eHealth programmes that use innovative technology to bring health service closer to the people. The most recent development is in Kenya where Britam, Safaricom and Changamka health launched a new health insurance product for low-income families.

With a high mobile phone intake in Africa, the continent has been seen as being on the tipping point for ehealth programmes. Frost & Sullivan argue that most eHealth programmes have failed because of lack of support from respective governments.

Some pilots have failed to get to implementation stage due to lack of government buy-in. Government buy-in and political commitment are crucial to the success of eHealth projects, the company stated.

“Innovative partnerships forged between public and private players will go a long way in driving viability of project implementation. Improvements for public private partnerships mentioned in the forum were for private sector participants to not impose solutions on government systems, but rather to align themselves with national strategies and plans to see where they can implement eHealth solutions,” Sachikonye said.

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