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Health II

Insight into African Health Futures


Alex Chika Ezeh - PhD, MSc, Executive director of the African Population & Health Research Center

“The top three health trends that I see are: growing inequities in access to health services and health outcomes, the shifting burden of disease from infectious to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), and a greater push for country ownership of health programming and funding.

Unfortunately, with growing urbanization, changing lifestyles, and poor governance, the incidence of NCDs is increasing rapidly in sub-Saharan Africa even while the region still bears a huge burden from infectious diseases like HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, diarrhea, and other neglected tropical diseases. Injuries, especially among young adult males, are also on the rise. These trends will further stretch already weak health systems and could result in a reversal of recent improvements in health."

Dr Mary Amuyunzu-Nyamongo - Executive Director and Founder Member of the African Institute for Health & Development (AIHD) based in Nairobi, Kenya.

“Another problem is a flawed perception of who is healthy and what is healthy living. Some African cultures look at a fat person as a healthy person,” especially in light of the weight loss accompanying advanced stages of AIDS."

Dr Anuschka Coovadia - Head of Health Africa, KPMG

“It is highly likely that the next decade will witness the emergence of new defined “African Model” of healthcare, which will not be constrained by the entrenched practices and structures seen in the Western world. It is also likely that this system will progress rapidly and spread extensively in order to meet the latent and growing needs of its people – based on the provision of cost-effective primary healthcare, strong referral networks, the use of certain technologies, task-shifting and new categories of healthcare workers, training system and, regional regulatory authorities. This will be critical to meet our goals and this time, ensuring Africa’s economic growth is inclusive, sustainable and actually translates into better lives for all our people."

Dr Bernhard Gaede - former Director of the Centre for Rural Health at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and currently a family physician working at Emmaus Hospital in the Northern Drakensberg (KZN).

“Traditional medicine is often seen as a lot more sensitive to people's cultural setting.

Healing is very diverse; it addresses a whole range of issues, like explanation of the illness or anxiety around the illness, and also a ritual to end the illness. Often the way biomedicine and the dominant health care system approaches traditional medicine is focused on the substance that is being given, not necessarily on the whole process and everything that comes with it.

The experience of healing is much more integrated into the process you are following in traditional medicine."

Fard Johnmar - Digital Health Futurist, Founder and President of Enspektos

“There is a lot of good news when we talk about mobile health applications and how they are helping to ease the traditional aspects of the digital divide, both here in the United States and globally, regarding internet access and computer use. However, the divide actually goes far beyond Internet use and is related to a range of issues including, provider access to EHR technologies in underserved communities, or the functional device divide, for example, which relates to not having the ability to access the latest medical devices such as prosthetic limbs because of economic factors. Technology is taking us far but there are still disparities and cultural issues that we need to recognize and address.

We argue that the innovators who don’t have the ability to look at the world from the perspective of low-income people, people of color, older adults, women, etc. will develop digital health and technologies that are either ineffective or will go unused. We hope that talking about these challenges will help innovators recognize and address this issue.

From the physician perspective, the Internet and social media have challenged the doctor-patient relationship in profound ways. Technologies, like genomics and sensors, will test this relationship further. However, technology shouldn’t be viewed as an enemy, but an ally. Despite the many issues associated with EHRs, they do promise to help doctors diagnose patients in new ways. In fact, a day is rapidly approaching when doctors can shift from putting out health ‘fires’, to using genetics, data, and other tools to reduce medical errors and prevent people from getting sick, or sicker, in the first place."

Dr Sara Bennet - CEO Future Health Systems

“Financial, geographic and cultural barriers are interconnected and often interact - compounding access problems for the poorest and most marginalized communities. I think that the entry point for addressing them varies across different contexts: sometimes it means strengthening skills for existing informal health care providers, sometimes developing effective cadres of community health workers. But there is no "magic bullet" approach that should be applied everywhere."

Jim Carroll - Futurist, Trends & Innovation Keynote speaker

“By 2020, we had successfully transitioned the health care system from one which "fixed people after they were sick" to one of preventative, diagnostic medicine. Treating them for the conditions we know they were likely to develop.

In the near future, a lot of non–critical care patients will be able to remain in their homes instead of being admitted to the hospital, and doctors will be able to monitor their vital signs remotely, using real-time analytics and location-intelligence technologies."

Christine Folck - Lead Innovation Designer, Kaiser Permanente

"Don’t come to us telling us you can upload [data] into our electronic medical record. We don’t necessarily want it there … our physicians don’t want it all there. They really don’t need to know how much exercise each of their patients is getting on a daily basis; they just don’t have time to process all of that."

Marco Della Torre - VP of Product Science, Basis Science, Inc.

"80% of health apps are abandoned within two weeks."

Clayton Christensen - Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School

“Do we think that healthcare will become affordable by expecting the hospitals to be cheap? It just won’t happen. The dynamics of decentralization will allow lower-cost caregivers to offer more sophisticated things. This is what will happen, and it needs to happen."

Helen Counihan - of the Malaria Consortium

“The components of stronger health systems, such as sustainable funding, equitable access to care, a strong and efficient health management system and successful behaviour change communication all depend upon a greater role for communities in the delivery of services, mobilisation of demand and increasing access to those most in need."

Klaus Schwab - Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum

“Economic growth is impossible without healthy people."

Dr Brian Goldman - Emergency Room Physician, Best-Selling Author, Radio Broadcaster and Medical Watchdog

“One of the biggest changes to health care has to do with the type of patients the system will be challenged to look after. Hospitals will be caring for a growing number of seniors in their 90s and early 100s. Some of these patients will be frail, but many will be robust enough to undergo complex surgery. The growing use of artificial organs will mean that patients will live longer than ever."

Dr Eric Topol - West Endowed Chair of Innovative Medicine; Cardiologist; Geneticist

“Medicine has certainly progressed in the past 50 years, but the day when tricorders diagnose every ailment instantly and treatments are tailored to our DNA seems as far off as ever."

Edie Weiner - President, Weiner, Edrich, Brown, Inc

“We will have the capacity to 3-D print any living material, natural or man-made, and tissue, muscle, bone and organ enhancement and replacement will be commonplace. Think Star Trek, and the body will be able to be diagnosed simply and non-invasively. Virtual reality and augmented reality will project us into worlds of joy and wonder while in sedated, unconscious or semi-conscious states, so hospitals will never be places of dread, but of entertainment.

Light and sound frequencies and vibrations will be employed in every manner of health care, and nanoparticles will be traveling throughout our bodies to target unwanted microbes and enhance beneficial ones.

Aging will be halted and reversed, so that the enormous sums of money spent now on hospitalization for the aged will be a thing of the past, and the greatest causes of death will be from accidents, crimes, environmental calamity and the rapid spread of rogue diseases that are resistant to known cures. Many hospitals will dedicate much more space to large-scale rapid disease and disaster victims than to ordinary procedures, and intelligent robotics will perform most operations with little invasion and rapid recovery."


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