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A female Anopheles Mosquito

Digital Health Innovations Key to Achieving Zero Malaria by 2030 – Experts

Stakeholders in the health sector have been urged to intensify the adoption and deployment of digital health innovations if the battle to attain malaria infection must be achieved by 2030.

The health experts came to this conclusion while reviewing the 2023 Malaria Day theme; time to deliver Zero Malaria: invest, innovate, implement.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had urged countries affected by malaria globally to accelerate the reach of high-impact tools and strategies to prevent, detect and treat malaria, with a focus on reaching the most vulnerable, ensuring that no one is left behind.

But speaking during Insights- a public health webinar hosted by eHealth Africa, medical expert, Dr Dennis Marke, a clinician and program manager at Systems strengthening in the ministry of Health and Science while doubling as acting program manager, National Malaria control program in Sierra Leone noted that there was a need to strengthen public private partnership to improve the fight against malaria.

According to him, this can be achieved through improved access to medical information, communication and health application in issues around malaria control.

The theme “Time to Deliver Zero Malaria: Investing in Sustainable Digital Health Innovations,” is meant to foster conversations with professionals within the public health space.

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Dr Dennis said digital health tools have proven instrumental in the seemingly unending antimalaria fight in the region.

He said mobile based innovations through SMS messages have between 70-80% penetration in Sierra Leone and have been effective in reaching out to the population about the symptoms of Malaria and need for testing.

He gave an instance saying, “In the 2017 mass campaign, we use rocket pro mobile applications to track the supply of medical equipment and drugs at our peripheral health units”.

Dr Dennis also mentioned other forms of digital tools like Solar Power Mosquito Trap, district health information system amongst others, that have been instrumental in laboratory analysis, research, surveillance and tracking of health interventions even in remote communities.

While admitting the existing challenge of Internet connectivity in some hard to reach communities he said, “You can have this technology sitting out there and if the cell phone penetration is the hardest to reach, the marginalized communities are not covered, that’s a huge challenge”.

He however called for proper coordination in delivering digital health interventions, through effective mapping of digital health partners to identify their areas of strength. This according to him will ensure unity of purpose and to ensure all partners work towards achieving the overall goal of fighting against malaria.