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Opinions Fri, 24 Dec 2021

The future of healthcare in Africa

The team over at MedTrack was invited to take part in a health summit to discuss the future of Ghana’s healthcare. Building A Sustainable Healthcare System: A shared Vision For The Future.

Dr. Nsiah-Asare opened the discussions. He serves as the Presidential Advisor on Health. His panel discussion was centered around the government’s drive to make vaccines accessible to the millions of Ghanaians in our rural and urban communities. In addition, he touched on Ghana’s expanded efforts in building health facilities and the progress made so far.

The second panel discussion was the more intriguing one I’ll like to share. A discussion on the topic, harnessing big data in healthcare and its impact on Ghana’s healthcare goals. The panel was made up of Daniel from Zipline, an international medical drone and logistic company serving rural Ghana with much-needed medical vaccines and blood.

Yaw Yemaachi Biotechnology, Yemaachi uses cutting-edge immunogenomics, bioinformatics, and artificial intelligence to accelerate the development of cancer detection and cure strategies. Andrew from RedBird Health; pioneering partnerships with community pharmacies to bring them proven rapid test technology for chronic and acute conditions. Finally, MedTrack, building a universally accessible health records system for over 1 billion Africans on the continent.

A few minutes into the discussion, we had clearly identified the current void in Ghana’s health data records and how this is an obvious roadblock to the future of healthcare in Ghana and Africa. There was a resounding voice to synergize Ghana’s health data records so it migrates with each patient throughout their lifetime encounters with various physicians. What caught my attention was the collective understanding from the panelists — experts in their various fields — on how key this is to health delivery in Africa.

From the collective voice, this clearly was a major problem that needed to be addressed. One that needed a scalable solution to tackle the different data fragmentations within the African healthcare sector.

A general agreement on a solution to this problem is what we’ve been building over at MedTrack. Our moonshot goal is to help policymakers access predictive tools using MedTrack’s risk prediction algorithm to help health organizations and governments make a more informed decision on a country’s health policies.

Our team has been leading this drive for the past couple of years. The feedback from health practitioners has been nothing but motivational for us. We continue to appreciate all the efforts our partners have put in to consistently deliver on this solution.

Using big data, governments can predict the next outbreak, medication allocation policies, healthcare provider staffing problems, and much more.

I’ve personally witnessed how a gap in health data availability can adversely affect something as beautiful as childbirth. At its current version, MedTrack has helped physicians make better decisions on patients’ healthcare using their accumulated health data history. We’ve built a solution that allows this data to scale and break institutional silos. Our solution connects patients to as many experts as they choose for an informed decision on their healthcare.

Using non-identifying data, predictive caregiving will emerge from each patient encounter using MedTrack. Doctors can now accurately assess their patient’s entire medical history to act fast, save lives and save cost to both the patient and institutional processes.

We have begun to see the impact of our efforts in Ghana. As we strategically build for the rest of African, people will begin to see improvements in vaccination distribution, medication allocation, and insurance coverage for the larger population.

We are rapidly moving towards digitizing our health information systems. We will eventually have to build towards standardization. A key part of this will include leveraging national identification systems such as the Ghana Card, Nigeria’s National Identification Number (NIN), and Kenya’s Huduma Namba.

African governments are building these identification databases for over 1.2 billion citizens. A collaborative effort with these brilliant minds and those I was honored to share the room with during the summit will foster this standardization.

Will We Succeed?

Technological innovations have always helped civilizations leapfrog pandemics, eradicate diseases, and extend our life expectancy. We as Africans will need to adopt a MedTrack type solution to help our scientists make sense of our health trends and how they evolve.

We are building the baseline technology to accelerate Africa’s scientific discovery. Our health data will eventually help our scientists develop solutions for genetically specific inheritance that will ensure we live a healthy happy life.

Columnist: Kweku Ghartey