The focus of this year’s Africa Health Indaba is on integrated solutions for the country’s healthcare system. This is according to the spokesperson for the organising team, Dr Bandile Hadebe.
Speaking at the opening day of the 11th Africa Health Annual Public Health Congress at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, Johannesburg, on Tuesday, Hadebe said one way of addressing the gaps in the healthcare system was with the adoption of technology.
The three-day conference aims to bring together the different health innovation programmes that over 10 000 delegates will attend.
We also need to ensure that we work towards a system that will allow us to manufacture medical supplies locally, have our own reliable medical products, and stop relying on global funders.
“We don’t have enough research programmes and as a result, we see more people going to countries like China because they have an established health network.”
Hadebe said the focus of the congress would be on health workers and how they could be given support with introducing technology innovations at hospitals and all healthcare centres.
“We aim to also bring efficiency in health care and to ensure that what happens in the private sector happens in the public sector to achieve a universal and uniform effective healthcare system for all Africans.”
He said in the realm of radiology, despite strides made in education and training at the systemic level, the shortage of human resources remained a pressing concern.
Groundbreaking technological and digital advancements, including the rapid evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) machine learning (ML) and deep learning, are ushering in opportunities to alleviate the burden on healthcare systems.
“This is critically important in the African context and the Global South, where infrastructural and human resource limitations often stymie progress, especially in the realms of radiology, as well as other subfields of imaging and diagnostics.”
Health tech has been identified as a high-growth sector where African startups, such as Envisionit, which recently secured a $1.65 million (R30 billion) investment are pioneering transformative solutions.
Hadebe emphasised that in other industries, AIs used in medical settings had been a topic of contention. And, as is in various other sectors, AI was not expected to supplant medical professionals, but rather to augment their capabilities.
He said this meant that each specialist could potentially treat more patients, with better outcomes at scale, while hopefully also improving the pervasive issue of professional burnout.
“The Africa Health Congress remains at the vanguard of these crucial dialogues. Alongside the Imaging and Diagnostics Conference, the first day of the event also sees the kick-off of both the fifth Medical Obstetrics Conference and the Public Health Conference, now in its seventh year running,” said Hadebe.