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Improving Chronic Disease Outcomes in Rural Areas in Africa through E-Health Programmes; an Examination of Barriers, Facilitators and State Policies (Dissertation Sample)


The task was to examine the possibility of improving chronic disease outcomes in rural areas in Africa through e-health programs.


Improving Chronic Disease Outcomes in Rural Areas in Africa through E-Health Programmes; an Examination of Barriers, Facilitators and State Policies: A Study of Kenya.
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The purpose of this project was to examine the possibility of improving chronic disease outcomes in rural areas in Africa through e-health programs. In this case barriers, facilitators and state policies were explored with Kenya being the area of study. The methodology used to collected information for the research covered primary and secondary data; primary data was collated through surveys, questionnaires and structured interviews. For the secondary data information was accessed from sources such as related research, books, newspapers, encyclopaedias among others. It was concluded that despite having few hospitals and limited technology, rural Africa had the potential to successfully run e-health programs and reduce the spread of chronic diseases. It was recommended that electronic health services be applied over a period of time to enable smooth integration, governments and hospital administrators work together with various stakeholders to implement electronic health in rural Africa, and local area networks, as well as wide area networks should be set to facilitate the team work between hospitals. 
Keywords: e-health, electronic, chronic diseases, barriers, state polices, and facilitators
Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1 Definition of E-Health
The term e-health (electronic health) is broadly used by many individuals, professional bodies, funding organizations, and academic institutions. Oh et al. (2005) claim the term has become an accepted neologism despite the lack of an agreed definition. Eysenbach (2001) also observes that many people are familiar with the term e-health, but only a small number have come up with a clear definition of the term. According Esyenbach (2001), the term is used to characterize not only “internet medicine”, but also virtually everything that is related to computers and medicine. Esyenbach (2001) argues that the term was first created and used by industry leaders and marketers rather than academicians; these used the term in line with other “e-words” like e-business, e-solutions, and e-commerce among others. The emergence of the internet presented opportunities, as well as challenges to the traditional healthcare information technology industry and the introduction of a new term to address these issues seemed appropriate.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) (2015), e-health is the transfer of health resources, as well as healthcare by electronic means. WHO (2015) observes that e-health is encompassed in three main areas:
a) Delivery of health information, for health professionals and health consumers, through the Internet and telecommunication;
b) Using the power of IT and e-commerce to improve public health services; for example, through the education and training of health workers;
c) The use of e-commerce and e-business practices in health systems management. Gibbons (2007) defines e-health as the use of emerging interactive technologies such as the internet, interactive TV, interactive voice response systems, kiosks, internet-enabled cell phones and personal data digital assistants to enable the improvement of health, as well as healthcare services. Gibbons (2007) believes this definition is widely used as it accommodates e-health applications for patients and providers, and more infrastructure-related programs; for instance, the electronic medical records (EMRs) and personal health records (PHRs). Regardless of the many different definitions of e-health, its introduction represented the promise of information, as well as communication technologies with the purpose of improving health and healthcare system.
1.2 E-Health in Africa
Access to healthcare has been a major challenge for a good number of years. This is, especially, the rural regions of Africa. These regions have few available healthcare services that people can access for healthcare services. Geographic remoteness and high levels of poverty are essential factors that impact healthcare services in rural Africa. The Commonwealth (2015) claims e-health offers possibilities for addressing most of these challenges. According to The Commonwealth (2015) e-health strengthens health systems and addresses the public’s health priorities as it has the potential to increase the effectiveness of health systems, as well as improving access, especially, in the remote regions; for marginalized or excluded populations, the elderly and people with disabilities. E-health can be used to improve quality of service and reduce costs of healthcare by reducing redundancy, as well as duplication, and introducing the economies of scale (eHealth Africa, 2015). For this purpose, the Commonwealth began focusing on assisting countries to promote the exchange of e-health status, especially, among its members. In this case, a methodology and templates for the policy and strategy of e-health were developed (The Commonwealth, 2015).
As a result, e-health policy and strategy training were delivered in Eastern and Southern Africa, which resulted to the drafting, reviewing, as well as updating of policies and strategies for e-health; in addition to the development of work plans and engagement with relevant stakeholders, decision and policy makers at the regional level (eHealth Africa, 2015). The Commonwealth (2015) notes that at the national level, it resulted to the successful sourcing of additional resources from other partners with the purpose of developing e-health strategies; for example, the Kenyan Government officially launched its own e-health strategy. The Kenyan government has since worked hand in hand with the Commonwealth Secretariat to share their experience in the Southern African regions and to offer assistance for the Southern African Development Community country teams to draft and finalize their strategies and policies for e-health (The Commonwealth, 2015).
1.3 Chronic Diseases in Africa
Aikins et al. (2010) observe that Africa faces an urgent, but neglected epidemic of chronic diseases. According to Aikins et al. (2010) some African countries experience cases of hypertension, stroke, cancer and diabetes that cause great numbers of adult medical admissions, as well as deaths in comparison to communicable diseases like tuberculosis or HIV/AIDS. Aikins et al. (2010) claim Africa faces a burden of infectious, as well as chronic diseases. Infectious diseases account for about 69% of deaths on the continen...
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