It was a great pleasure to have received an invitation to speak at the Africa Health Webinar Series hosted by Pitch World Fast organization. Acknowledging that COVID-19 disrupted health service delivery across the world, more so in Africa, there is a greater need for the African continent to foster collaboration and partnership. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into light the co-dependence of countries and how governments need to foster new cooperation to mount effective and robust response.
In this context, Africa must learn from the lessons emerging from the crisis on the continent and at a global level and prepare for a new reality & economic dynamic. It should work on strengthening its ecosystem on a national, regional and continental level and focusing on the different pillars that are Education, Energy, Agriculture.
But one important area that must be prioritized is Diagnostics and Health Monitoring, both for emerging infectious and chronic diseases. Fear is emerging that the fight against these diseases is slow puncture due to the lack of diagnostics. According to the Lancet Commission on Diagnostics, the African continent is grappling with poor access to diagnostics. The advent of COVID-19 highlighted the crucial importance of timely and accurate diagnosis and health monitoring. One thing remains though—poor accessibility of diagnostics is not a new issue. Regional and global health agencies have identified the need to address the problem. While progress has been slow, it is no doubt that global health priorities (universal health coverage, global health security and AMR), will accelerate the efforts towards access to diagnostics. Similarly, the recent publication of WHO essential diagnostics list (EDL) is a key step towards recognizing the importance of diagnostics.
My presentation during the webinar also acknowledged that access to diagnostics helps improve health outcomes. Specifically, I underscored the importance of health monitoring and how the growing body of need for diagnostic access can be a catalyst for innovation. In a robust and a wide-ranging discussion with the participants, I explored how countries can build on the growing momentum around diagnostics and increase access. The discussion on health monitoring systems also emerged with participants sharing their thoughts on healthcare innovations and the increasing importance of mHealth technologies in health service delivery.
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