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SA, Kenya and Ghana front-runners in Africa's nascent eHealth sector

SA, Kenya and Ghana front-runners in Africa's nascent eHealth sector.

eHealth and telemedicine is slowly taking root in Africa, with telecom and other start-up companies from South Africa, Kenya and Ghana rapidly capitalising on advancements in ICT to tap into the health delivery sector, a new research finds.

Kenya, South Africa and Ghana are ahead of other African nations in eHealth and telemedicine, claims the Enabling eHealth Technology in South Africa, Kenya and Ghana report.

According to the report Kenya has surged ahead in this sector, with "local start-ups dominat(ing) the digital health market" in the country.

African companies such as Merck, Tech4Life Enterprise, Telemedicine Africa, VSee, CenHealth, Connected Care and Dimagi are offering numerous eHealth platforms that offer integrated services including data storage options.

Others, including Norvatis, Sanofi, Vodacom and Safaricom, have already started to look into eHealth opportunities, while Econet Wireless in Zimbabwe also runs the Energise the Chain offering that offers assistance to rural health centers.

"The total eHealth market for South Africa, Kenya and Ghana is in a nascent stage with expectations of high long-term growth," said Aditi Bhalla, transformational health research analyst for Frost & Sullivan.

Mobile money platforms such as M-Pesa and EcoCash are also seen as "extremely useful as digital wallets for quick and easy payments for healthcare related emergencies," adds the report.

Bhalla adds that "vendors offering quick and effective healthcare outcomes will gain a tremendous advantage" in the three markets. To speed this up, governments and other players are being urged to adopt public-private partnerships and integrated businesses as key business models.

Frost & Sullivan finds that "eHealth is disrupting healthcare delivery in Africa by offering governments and vendors a way to curb low resource issues and expand the reach and affordability" of healthcare.

Governments in Africa were now mostly bolstering the capacity of the healthcare workforce by using mHealth, video telemedicine and healthcare information technologies.

The report says public-private partnerships (PPPs), collaborations between local vendors or through agreements between local and international vendors would be the game-changers for the industry.

In the long run, eHealth will "minimise investment towards hospital bed-strength as more patients receive care within, or close to, their homes" without hospital admission.

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