eHealth is the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for health. eHealth can be used in treating patients, conducting research, educating the health workforce, tracking diseases and monitoring public health.
The use of the Internet, email, social networking sites and mobile phones are rapidly expanding in the African Region. Between 60% and 80% of people in the Region are estimated to be using mobile phones. These tools and platforms are creating opportunities for the effective use of eHealth solutions, applications and services to improve national health systems.
Telehealth and telemedicine services can eliminate distance and time barriers while encouraging positive lifestyle changes to prevent and control common diseases. SMS or text messaging can deliver information to fingertips 24-hours a day.
eHealth can be practically applied to different health scenarios such as:
local health workers working with mobile-based reminder systems to improve compliance and overall health outcomes;
a local immunization centre sending SMS reminders to parents and provide educational messages about the diseases they protect against;
using mobile technology during emergencies to dispatch mass announcements about satellite clinic locations and schedules.
There is great potential for eHealth to improve overall well-being in the Region and some countries have already started programmes centred around it.
WHO Regional Committee for Africa reports and resolutions: