In the early 2000s, leaders from around the world formed an ambitious plan to combat all forms of poverty. This programme gave rise to eight Millennium Development Goals. Fifteen years later, though significant progress has indeed been made, substantial inequalities still remain, particularly with regard to healthcare access.
One illustration: although the infant mortality rate dropped by more than 50% between 1990 and 2015, 16,000 children still die each day, mostly from preventable diseases . Operational problems persist in healthcare systems, due in particular to budget constraints and the challenges of resource allocation .
During the same period, developing countries began adopting new technologies at a phenomenal rate. Today, 95% of the world’s population has cellular network coverage, which is consumed through more than seven billion network subscriptions. The internet penetration rate rose from 6% in 2000 to 43% in 2015, linking 3.2 billion people across the planet . As access to healthcare remains the primary concern of those living in developing countries , the use of eHealth tools – a cross between ICTs and treatment approaches – is a fundamental issue in this context.
The Fondation Pierre Fabre, well aware of this phenomenon, decided to actively promote eHealth initiatives that streamlined access to quality healthcare and medicines for the most disadvantaged populations in resource-limited countries. Thus the Global South eHealth Observatory (ODESS) was established to identify, document, promote and help develop innovative projects using ICT in the healthcare realm. There are five major areas addressed by the Observatory:
Substantial sourcing is done, both in the field and remotely, to identify pertinent initiatives for inclusion in the Observatory’s open, evolving, scalable database. Project sponsors fill out a questionnaire to describe their projects’ characteristics. They may, if they so choose, fill out a second questionnaire for consideration as a recipient of an Observatory prize. Project sponsors can complete the questionnaire directly online in the Initiatives, Suggest an Initiative tab.
Project documentation is done primarily through reports generated from the field, providing additional information on the actual operation of the selected initiatives. Although field surveys provide certain facts for assessment, the site’s purpose is to report the existence of the projects concerned, rather than auditing them.
The odess.io website created by the Foundation is the visible part of the Observatory’s database. This site helps give visibility to eHealth initiatives, promoting them to the general public, healthcare and ICT stakeholders and potential partners. The ODESS, which can be found on social networks, publishes and relays information on eHealth in the Global South. The Observatory also intends to publish studies and reference documents on eHealth in the Global South.
The Foundation holds an annual conference at its headquarters. This day is an opportunity for dialogue between the stakeholders and potential partners of eHealth ecosystems. It is also a platform for promoting and advancing development of eHealth initiatives. As such, prizes are awarded to recognize the projects deemed most germane by the ODESS Expert Committee in a special ceremony. As the event was livestreamed in July 2016 and watched by 15 digital campuses around the world, students were able to take part in discussions via videoconferencing. Internet users can also follow the conference online!
The idea of the Global South eHealth Observatory was born of brainstorming by an expert work group led by the Fondation Pierre Fabre since January 2015.
AFD is France’s inclusive public development bank. It commits financing and technical assistance to projects that genuinely improve everyday life, both in developing and emerging countries and in the French overseas provinces. In keeping with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, AFD works in many sectors — energy, healthcare, biodiversity, water, digital technology, professional training, among others — to assist with transitions towards a safer, more equitable, and more sustainable world : a world in common. Through its network of 85 field offices, AFD currently finances, monitors, and assists more than 2,500 development projects in 108 countries. In 2016, AFD earmarked EUR 9.4bn to finance projects in developing countries and for overseas France.
The Fondation de l'Avenir for Applied Medical Research was created in 1987 by the Mutualité Française. It has been recognized as a public utility since 1988.
Driven by its vocation of general interest and its membership in the social economy, the Foundation embodies the link between the mutualist movement and public health actors. Through its actions, recommendations and publications, it actively participates in the improvement of our healthcare system. It allows researchers to advance their research projects and move beyond the fundamental stage for the benefit of all.
The Francophone University Agency (AUF), an international higher education association created more than 50 years ago, brings together more than 840 universities, major schools, scientific networks and research centers around the world. As coordinator of one of the world's largest higher education network, AUF assists universities for their structuration, expansion and involvement in local and global development. Its teams are present all over the world, and provide follow-up and advice for the design and management of projects. AUF offers technical and financial support and helps in the search for new partners. AUF develops and manages large-scale multilateral projects in all fields of higher education and social development.
Set up by the WHO in 2012 to support the region’s countries in developing eHealth systems, the Asia eHealth Information Network (AeHIN) of more than 1,000 healthcare professionals from 25 countries, includes senior civil servants from Health and ICT ministries, state health insurance schemes, universities and non-governmental contributors. The missions of AeHIN are:
- To upgrade health information, health statistics and patient data record systems
- To promote standards and interoperability within and between countries
- To strengthen leadership and sustainable governance, as well as supervision and assessment
- To boost mutual assistance and knowledge sharing using an effective network
StartupBRICS.com, founded in 2013, is the first French-speaking platform which is 100% devoted to news related to Tech, Innovation & Startups from BRICS and emerging countries, and their networking. Startup BRICS aims to provide French and French-speaking economic decision-makers with news, insight and analyses about the digital potential of the future economic champions. StartupBRICS is also a consulting firm, with field presence in southern countries. It seeks to identify opportunities, initiatives and to collect creative stories every day to enable communication on these projects through the website. StartupBRICS serves as a media intermediary for the innovative initiatives of southern countries. StartupBRICS is set up for the purpose of studying, understanding and promoting innovation in emerging countries, notably that bringing solutions and changing the daily life of people. Website: www.startupbrics.com