Healthcare Innovation SummitOn Aug. 19, 2015, health care and technology executives will gather at the Protea Fire & Ice Hotel in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg. The agenda of this meeting is to discuss the upcoming African Innovator Round Tables: Health Care Innovation Summit.

The summit will address the theme, “Transforming Health Care with Technology.” Africa is lagging behind poor countries in South East Asia in all indicators of health. When measured a few decades ago, Africa was ahead of these Asian countries.

The change in health care is a necessity for Africa. On average, Africans live 14 years less than the average world citizen and 21 years less than the average European citizen.

All of Africa is not blighted by the lack of health care. There are some sporadic success stories. These success stories are made possible by multilateral institutions, governments, private firms or non-governmental organizations.

Although there are some success stories, all of Africa needs more assistance. Lack of skills, access to facilities and medication, and chronic disease care continue to place high demands on the existing health care resources in Africa.

Economic instability pushes governments to reconsider health care budgets and the adoption of new technology. While health care budgets are being decreased, there is a growing expectation of safety, access and enhanced patient experiences.

These high demands cannot continue to be met unless there are some changes. “In order to address these challenges, African governments and health care providers must turn to technology innovation especially in the areas of mobility, clinical decision support, patient management systems and data analysis and business intelligence for health care resource planning,” according to the African Innovator Magazine.

Moreover, “At the Healthcare Innovation Summit, delegates will have the opportunity to take part in in-depth round table discussions, which will cover technological issues that affect the development of health care in Africa, as well as hear from a number of top-flight local and international speakers.”

The summit is hoping to attract guests such as innovation officers in health care facilities, chief information officers in the health care industry, chief medical officers, technology service providers, academics, advocacy groups and health care press.

Topics discussed will include:
– Unleashing the potential of applications and wireless devices in health care
– Investing in data integration and software integration
– Addressing the challenges of fragmented information in health care
– Embracing new technology
– Finding the next biggest opportunity for health care in Africa

Conference Information

Date: Aug. 19, 2015
Delegate Fee: 950 Euros
Group Discounts:
-3 or more delegates – 5 percent discount per delegate
-5 or more delegates – 10 percent discount per delegate

The Healthcare Innovation Summit registration fee includes entry into all round table sessions, networking sessions, all conference documents, delegate bags, corporate gifts, USB sticks, light lunch and refreshments.

Kerri Szulak

Sources: African Innovator, IT News Africa
Photo: IT News Africa

Cancer. The dreaded disease kills millions around the world. It sometimes seems like everyone knows someone that it has cursed with its cruel touch. But even in the developing world, it is having a huge impact on thousands of people.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 7.9 million people around the world die from cancer each year. While many think of this as more of a developed world problem, 5.5 million of those cancer-related deaths take place in the developing world. That is 70 percent of cancer deaths across the globe. Once a disease associated with the affluent, it is now an affliction of the poor.

Worse, cancer deaths are to increase to 6.7 million by the end of this year and further to 8.9 million by 2030 in the developing world. During the same time frame, cancer deaths are expected to remain at current levels in the developed world.

A few factors will contribute to this expected rise within the next 15 years of cancer-related deaths. First is the globally aging population. To go along with this is a increase in rapid, unplanned urbanization as well as the globalization of unhealthy lifestyles.

Most health infrastructures in developing countries are designed to respond to infectious diseases. Cancer requires more resources financially, as well as treatment technology, equipment, staff or training than most countries have access to.

There is not only an issue here of deaths but also needless suffering. Sadly, there is very large lack of response capacity in the developing world. There is a lack of preventatives, treatment, public education and diagnosis. Early diagnosis in particular is a problem, and once diagnosed it is usually the rich that have access to treatment, whether surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy out of country. This is especially the case in Africa.

After all that, it might appear that everyone is doomed. However, recent good news about new technology to diagnose cancer early in the developing world has things looking up.

Early diagnosis is key in cancer. If the disease is not recognized early through cancer testing, then treatment is usually not effective. Seventy percent of those that even get diagnosed in the developing world do at this late stage when treatment is essentially useless.

Important to detecting cancer are biomarkers – cells or molecules along with “any other measurable biological characteristic that can be used as an objective way to detect disease.” Glycoproteins are especially useful biomarkers. They are found throughout the body, in blood, mucus and sperm.

New technology is using glycoproteins to detect cancer early. The lock and key method takes a disease biomarker, like a glycoprotein of prostate cancer, and makes a cast of it. “The prostate cancer glycoprotein is tethered to a surface and detection molecules are assembled around it. When the glycoprotein is removed, it leaves behind a perfect chemical ‘cast’.”

Essentially, the lock and key technique means that only another cancer glycoprotein will fit the mold – others might be the same size, but they will not have the specific molecules needed to bind to the lock created by the original one.

As this method of diagnosis does not rely on antibodies, it does not require special storage. The lock and key cancer testing method is a simple and effective way to detect cancer early, and can even be molded to specific cancers and other diseases. The advantages are obvious, but time will tell if the method of testing becomes wide-spread in the developing world.

Gregory Baker

Sources: The Conversation, WHO
Photo: The Conversation

Here are seven things you did not know about one of the World’s largest health system support organizations, Intrahealth International.

  1. For over 30 years in 90 countries, Intrahealth has empowered health workers to better serve communities in need through programs that foster local solutions to health care challenges such as health worker performance, strengthening health systems, harnessing technology, and leveraging partnerships worldwide.
  2. Intrahealth was founded in 1979 as the Intrah Program at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and incorporated as an independent nonprofit organization in 2003.
  3. Intrahealth’s approach to improving health care calls for listening, analyzing, and collaborating with leaders and communities to develop the most effective solutions for a particular environment.
  4. Intrahealth’s mission statement says that it works to empower health workers to better serve communities in need around the world, including all of the individuals who support health workers in their jobs: from educators and software developers to health facility managers, lab technicians, and community leaders.
  5. Intrahealth partners with numerous governmental organizations and NGOs, as well as community, faith-based, and private groups. The organization also partners with US and international NGOs with compatible missions and programs.
  6. Currently Intrahealth works in more than 30 countries and territories, including: Angola, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, DR Congo, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Kenya, Laos, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mongolia, Namibia, Nigeria, Panama, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, West Bank/Gaza, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
  7. The organization currently has a staff of nearly 600 employees working on programs in over 20 countries in Africa, the Americas, and Asia, with its main offices in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and Washington, DC. Opportunities for individual can be searched here.

– Kira Maixner