About International Rural and Elderly Health Informatics Conference (IREHI) Edition 2018

Place: Abomey-Calavi/Benin 
Venue: University of Abomey-Calavi
Dates: 3 – 4 December 2018
I. Context and justification

Worldwide, public health care systems are facing diverse challenges such as infrastructural, personnel shortage, medical expenditures, poor access to healthcare, especially in rural regions, poor accommodation to patient needs, especially elderly peoples, etc.

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. Existing nursing homes provide adequate care services to elderly, though, certain 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 due to poor healthcare 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 the challenges facing and, thus, increase access to health care service delivery.

Although, significant progress made regarding the quality of healthcare services 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 access to qualitative healthcare mostly in rural areas.

Several studies have shown that launching information and communication technologies (ICT) in the healthcare systems shows promise to significantly improve health education, diseases diagnostics, the effectiveness of treatment and monitoring of the elderly people, both in urban and rural regions where specialized health care services are still limited or sometimes non-existent.

Despite several challenges facing in launching telehealthcare and remote health care systems or solutions in most sub-Saharan African countries, efforts are being made to implement these solutions in order to  achieve the goals of universal health coverage (UHC) and sustainable development to which all these countries have agreed and subscribed.

In recent years, numerous health-IT systems and solutions have been  and are being deployed in both high-, middle- and low-income 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 health care services delivery in rural regions and for the elderly people.  The IREHI Conference aims at being a platform where researchers and stakeholders from high-, middle- and low-income countries could exchange on health care 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 the 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 an affordable cost to developing countries in multi-sectoral integration strategy (health – education – agriculture – environment), in order to address specific challenges healthcare and rural development, aiming at improving care and elderly well-being.

III. Expected participants
  • Health Informatics researchers from industry as well as public healthcare bodies working towards improving and transforming rural and elderly health care.
  • Actors involved in health care services delivery (Steering healthcare committees, healthcare professionals, 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 2018 edition aims to contribute to the impulse of the transformation of health systems in sub-Saharan Africa with the following pillars:

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

The IREHI conference is an annual interdisciplinary conference organized throughout the world. This 2nd edition will be held in Africa.

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