About International Rural and Elderly Health Informatics Conference (IREHI) Edition 2017

Place: Lome/Togo Dates: 14 -17 December 2017

I. Context and justification

Worldwide, public health care is facing diverse kind of care delivery issues.

High income countries are facing exploding medical costs primarily due to growing population of elderly people. Elderly are the fastest growing demographic group in developed countries. The UN forecasts that by 2050, elderly (60 years et and older) would constitute up over 20% of the world population. In developed countries, nursing home provides adequate care services to elderly; nevertheless, elderly people prefer staying at home in their familiar and usual social environment and take care of their health by themselves as long as they are able to. Home care applications are therefore increasingly in demand.

Rural areas, particularly in developing countries, are suffering from poor access to health care services. Among the reasons are poor health care infrastructures, inappropriate public health structure, lack of health insurance, brain drain and lack of medical expert specialists. Telehealthcare and remote care delivery are a continuing trend today in developing countries public health care systems to overcome care provision issues and increase access to care service.

Although of significant progresses gained in providing quality healthcare in developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, improvements are still needed for some population groups. In fact, several years after successfully launch the policies for access to primary health care (Alma Ata vision 1978, Harare 1987, Ouagadougou 2008), significant challenges remains in accessing to quality healthcare in rural areas in most of sub-Saharan African countries.
On the other hand, several studies have shown that approaches integrating solutions proposed by new information and communication technologies (ICT) could significantly contribute to the improvement of health education, diagnosis of diseases, effectiveness of treatment and monitoring of the elderly, both in urban and rural areas where specialized services are still limited or sometimes non-existent.
In spite of several challenges encountered in expanding the telehealth and distance care in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the benefits of these approaches are undeniable and could contribute to the strengthening and better functioning of most health systems of these countries. This would be an asset in achieving the goals of universal health coverage (UHC) and sustainable development to which all these countries have agreed and subscribed.
In recent years, numerous projects for the development and integration of new information and communication technologies (ICT) into health systems have been deployed, both in industrialized and developing countries. However, most of these initiatives have often been organized in parallel and separate manner. Moreover, the opportunities for presenting evidence-based experiences, especially from African’s teams, and sharing solutions from various actors involved in the implementation of these approaches are not frequent and well-formalized.

II. Objectives

The main objective of the IREHI conference is to bring together, on a site, researchers in information technology, healthcare, professionals in ICT industries, public and community health agencies and agencies committed to improve and transform healthcare in rural areas and for the elderly. IREHI Conference would further enable direct exchanges between researchers and stakeholders from industrialized and developing countries, on healthcare issues in rural areas and for the elderly people.Additionally, it helps to share implementation initiatives conducted in both developed and developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan African countries, and discuss the conditions of success and constraints, and best approaches for transposing these experiences, aiming at developing national ICT policy frameworks for healthcare system and contributing to the achievement of UHC objectives. It will furthermore help to discuss the interoperability of high-performance tools, conditions and modalities for transferring technical resources at affordable cost to developing countries in multisectorial integration strategy (health – education – agriculture – environment), in order to address specific challenges healthcare and rural development, aiming to improving care and elderly well-being.

III. Expected participants

  • Health Informatics researchers from industry as well as public health care bodies working towards improving and transforming rural and elderly healthcare.
  • Actors involved in provision of care (managers in charge of steering and management of health services, direct staff management of health care facilities,
    other categories of health workforce and patients);
  • National health information management system and computerized health management information system at decentralized levels (district, regions).
  • healthcare system at different levels of health system pyramid;
  • Social insurance system (insurance, mutual health insurance);
  • Education, agriculture and the environment.

IV. Expected Results & Activities

  • Expected results

This first edition 2017 aims to contribute to the impulse of the transformation of health systems in sub-Saharan Africa with the following pillars:

  1. Commitment to health system by stakeholders to develop national ICT policy frameworks for all health communities;
  2. Capacity-building in the field of ICTs of health care teams, particularly those
    working in rural areas;
  3. Identification and optimization of the tools available in the context of the developing countries in vision of strategic efficient integration and interoperationalization
  4. Identification of ICT tools and definition of innovative strategies for the effective transformation of the health care continuum, which should evolve from a « disease
    management system » where care is often reactive and episodic, to become a genuine « health system », with focus on prevention and management of the « wellbeing »
    of all communities, especially the most vulnerable people.
  • Planned activities and means required

The IREHI conference is an annual interdisciplinary conference including various fields which will be annually organized throughout the world, starting in Africa.

Activity 1: Presentations in plenary sessions & posters;
Activity 2: Thematic Workshops;
Activity: Practical demonstration sessions