Cameroon: Digital Health Experts review World Health Organization Digital Adaptation Kits

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Panelists during the session on the World Health Organization Digital Adaptation Kits – WHO-DAKs

Health experts say policymakers need to have a holistic way of sustaining health care and digital health will improve our health care, patient output and sustainability. The experts were speaking during an online session under the theme: “The World Health Organization Digital Adaptation Kits (WHO-DAKs): The new norm for digital health development.”

The event was organized by the Nkafu Policy Institute, a think tank of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation, in conjunction with BornFyne and the University of Ottawa.

“Digital health will improve our health care, patient output and sustainability. It will help in achieving universal health coverage”, Dr Valery Ngo, Bornfyne Project coordinator & webinar moderator said. Bornfyne is supported by Grand Challenges Canada through the University of Ottawa.

Despite tremendous investments into digital systems worldwide, there is often limited understanding and transparency in health data about evidence-based clinical practice and public health recommendations, thereby impeding interoperability and threatening the continuity of care.

“Implementing digital Healthcare is challenging in African countries due to policy making, attitudes and infrastructure”, Dr Forbella Nkengafac, District Medical Officer (DMO), Bangem subdivision said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) launched the Digital Adaptation Kits (DAKs) for Antenatal care as part of its SMART (Standards-based, Machine-readable, Adaptive, Requirements-based, and Testable) guidelines to support countries implementing antenatal care, contraception and family planning in their digital health systems.

Implementing digital Healthcare is challenging in African countries due to policy making, attitudes and infrastructure, experts say

Dr Abdulmumini Musa, Public health expert said: “Digital health implementation is still low in sub-Saharan African countries because the investment in health is so poor. Also, poor digital literacy accounts for low digital health application.” “Incorporating the DAK tool into health systems will enhance evidence base medicine which will improve patient care.”

DAKs are software-neutral, standardized documentation that distils clinical, public health and data use guidance into a format that can be transparently incorporated into digital systems in different countries and across different health systems. It uses information technology to support informed decision-making by clinicians, the health workforce and health systems, strengthening resilience to disease and improving health and wellness.

Dr Abdulmumini Musa added: “We have a wallet system where patients deposit money in this wallet during their hospitalization process. This provides transparency and accountability. It has also increased the revenue of the hospital and improved patient outcomes.”

“COVID-19 has shown us the importance of incorporating technology into our health systems”, Miriam Nkangu, School of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Ottawa, Canada, Project lead BornFyne. “Most African countries focus more on another aspect of governance like defence & pay little attention to health. Policymakers need to have a holistic way of sustaining health care.”

DAKs include process workflows, core data needs, decision support algorithms, linkages to indicators, and functional requirements for a health domain area, which can then be operationalized more readily into a digital system. The WHO DAKs guidelines provide a unique way to reinforce recommendations and service delivery.

“BornFyne is designed with visual icons to enable all women no matter their background, so they can easily access the ANC services offer by the platform” Donald Weledji, Founder and CEO of Donwel systems said.

“There is a probability of synchronizing two Digital health systems for data. Health care providers need to consult ICT specialists who can help them merge their existing system with that of the DAK tool.”

Miriam Nkangu added: “The ANC feature of BornFyne is designed using 40% of the WHO DAK tools. The other features of Bornfyne are postnatal and family planning. We health care providers understand how to implement these DAK tools in their existing systems.”

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