Wehubit finances five e-health solutions
The Wehubit programme of the Belgian development agency Enabel selected five e-health projects with a view of having them scale up their innovative solutions. Wehubit supports digital transformation as a means to speed up sustainable development and awards grants to projects that develop digital solutions in specific areas.
Universal health care
Universal health care is one of the priorities of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Strategically using digital technology is one way of achieving the SDGs set for 2030. Therefore, Wehubit contributes to scaling up digital projects that promote the right to universal health care. Following the latest Call for Proposals of Wehubit 1,714,611 euros is granted to five initiatives providing digital solutions to healthcare sector challenges. The selected grantees from Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania (Zanzibar) and Uganda now can further develop their e-health tools.
In Uganda Brick by Brick aims to improve access of mothers to maternity care. The organisation uses existing mobile phone networks and mobile-money payment platforms to connect women with local motorcycle and automobile taxi drivers. Women receive transportation vouchers via texting when they visit recommended antenatal care and they can subsequently use these vouchers for free-of-charge motorcycle and automobile taxi services when they need to go to a health centre or when they go into labour.
The transportation vouchers incentivise antenatal care attendance. The project also promotes women giving birth in health centres where appropriate maternity care is provided and risks are limited.
Two of the selected projects are implemented in Zanzibar: PharmAccess, is a digital application that collects medical information from medical facilities on the island. It monitors the costs of certain medical treatments and the care administered in the local health centres. The Ministry of Public Health, which has embarked on a thorough healthcare reform, aims to use the information to detect gaps faster and to develop effective solutions.
D-Tree International, is a mobile app for community health workers. The app will support them as they provide basic services to pregnant women and children under 5. The app provides step-by-step guidance so the health workers can assess risks faster, provide better care and refer patients to medical facilities to reduce pregnancy risks and maternal mortality.
A fourth project is implemented by Physicians for Human Rights in Congo. Sexual violence is still a daily reality in this unrest-torn country. Often such violence remains poorly documented and perpetrators are not prosecuted and victims are not heard. The mobile app helps doctors to collect evidence during consultation, to securely store and where needed safely share it with law enforcement, while safeguarding patient privacy.
The fifth and last project in this Call for Proposals is for the development organisation GRET. In Burkina Faso health agents who are to provide first-line health care in very remote areas are poorly supported. Because of the insecure situation and a lack of resources, supervising and training these agents is a challenge for the Burkinabé government. GRET’s awareness-raising text messages help train health agents from a distance. 300 key text messages as well as audio-visual items are developed on micro-SD cards for tablets and mobile phones.
Arnaud Leclercq, coordinator of Wehubit, is very enthusiastic about the outcome of this call. “The five projects have been selected among more than 79 proposals through a highly competitive selection process. We believe that digital innovation plays an important role in building a sustainable and better world. This Call for Proposals shows that many initiatives exist to improve health care and make it accessible to all.”
The Wehubit programme started in 2018 and supports projects which want to disseminate existing digital solutions and deploy them at a broader scale. The programme is specifically looking for solutions that can be reproduced in other sectors and regions and that have already proven to be effective. Wehubit manages funds from public and private investors who want to promote digital development projects. Grants are awarded to non-profit organisations. Thematic Calls for Proposals are regularly launched on the programme’s website. Earlier Calls targeted Climate-smart Agriculture and Women and Young people’s Rights, Inclusion and Empowerment. In January 2020 a new Call will be launched. That Call will focus on bridging the digital gap.
Enabel is the Belgian development agency. It implements and coordinates Belgium’s international development policy and primarily works for the Belgian State. The agency also implements actions for other national and international donors. Enabel manages about 150 projects, mostly in fragile states in Africa. Enabel has 1,500 staff, of which more than 70% is local personnel.