Ghana’s positive strides in digitizing its health system especially with the recent introduction of the drone technology to deliver essential medical supplies to hard-to-reach areas, has earned her a place on the World Health Organization’s roster of experts on digital health.
This follows the appointment of the Country Director of PharmAccess Group Ghana, Dr. Maxwell Antwi as a member of the WHO’s Digital Health Department.
In what appears to be a bold step to leverage the power and potential of digital-mobile technology, the world’s health body has set up a Digital Health Department to properly coordinate interventions aimed at improving health outcomes.
PharmAccess Foundation (Ghana) Country Director, Dr. Maxwell Antwi, says while the goal is to properly streamline efforts in the technology space to drive the Sustainable Development Goal 3 on healthy lives and well-being, it provides Ghana a fine opportunity to share key lessons in the implementation of digital interventions with the rest of the World.
According to Dr. Antwi, who is the only Ghanaian on the Roster of Experts technical advisory group, “innovations happening in the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) front in terms of electronic claims management and integration with National Identification Authority, block chain enabled supply chain for medicines with Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG) and the likes, offer Ghana an opportunity to be counted among the nations using digital technology to advance enhance achievement of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and SDG 3 healthcare.”
Role of global Roster of Experts on Digital Health
The experts drawn from around the world would be expected to, “provide high-level global strategic advice and support to the WHO Secretariat on the Organization’s digital health vision and strategy, thereby facilitating WHO’s positioning and comparative advantage in the subject to enable maximum impact.
They are also to review the digital health frontier landscape and advise the WHO Secretariat on possible effective new areas for intervention in that subject.
They are also expected to come up with innovative ideas on how to leverage digital penetration of countries around the world in the promotion of healthcare, disease prevention, cure and rehabilitation.
Relevance for Ghana
Dr. Maxwell Antwi believes Africans have done well in the adoption of mobile technology, and this gives an opportunity to take advantage of the penetration of digital technology to accelerate and access the realization of better health deliverables in sub Sahara Africa.
“It gives Ghana the opportunity tap into the wealth of ideas available from developed countries to improve innovations happening locally. With Ghana leading in this area with her interventions, it will create the platform to attract thought leaders in shaping the sector.”
How Ghana can tap into Digital Health concept
“General thinking now is that many people are piloting innovations in silos and not sharing ideas and learning from each other, that is one area this could improve,” Dr. Antwi noted.
“It would help break up the silos and create a level platform for idea-sharing. The concept is expected to improve and enhance coalition of digital health strategies and avoid duplication of efforts and inefficiencies as countries strive to achieve the global UHC 2030 Agenda.”
Big one for Pharm Access Foundation and Ghana
The appointment of a Ghanaian to the WHO Roster of Experts is a big mark of appreciation and recognition of what Ghana is doing in the space of digitization.
“With Ghana probably second to Rwanda on the continent in driving a digitization agenda, it is a progressive leap we must keep up and be inspired to enhance. It also means the bar is raised for Ghana and expectations of the international health community is heightened on the potential of Ghana to be a leader in digital health innovations, while countries share the lessons from working across sub Saharan Africa to improve generally health outcomes through digital technology.”
PharmAccess Foundation is an entrepreneurial organization with a digital agenda dedicated to connecting more people to better healthcare in Africa.
In Africa, almost everyone has access to a mobile phone. PharmAccess Foundation believes that mobile technology is on the verge of disrupting healthcare in Africa in a way that none of us can fully imagine yet.
To capitalize on this opportunity, PharmAccess Foundation and CHAG hasve initiated a digital platform that connects all players in the pharmaceutical market – bringing transparency, accountability and direct access to medicines and for end-users.
PharmAccess is dedicated to improving access to quality health care for people in sub-Saharan Africa. It mobilizes public and private resources for the benefit of doctors and patients through health insurance, mHealth innovations, loans to doctors (Medical Credit Fund), clinical standards (SafeCare) and impact research.
Working in public-private partnerships, they leverage donor contributions to increase trust in the health system, reduce risks and transaction costs, paving the way for private investments. PharmAccess has offices in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania with over 300 full time staff.