Development of a Health Portal between Public and Private Sectors in Southern Africa

Communicable diseases have, for decades, been a serious concern for social and human development in Southern Africa. This has mostly been attributed to the high levels of poverty in the region. According to the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the region accounts for one-third of people living with HIV and AIDS worldwide; eight SADC Member States are among those countries with the highest rates of tuberculosis; and 75 per cent of the SADC population is at risk of contracting malaria. This trio of diseases is a major threat to sustainable development in the region and Africa.

Needless to say millions of dollars have been invested in an effort to eliminate these diseases. To contribute to addressing this disease triangle that is prevalent in the region, IOM and Systems, Applications & Products in Data Processing (SAP), a German multinational software corporation, are working on developing an information exchange portal to improve knowledge and experience sharing between public and private sectors.

IOM was tasked to lead the process of developing the portal during a meeting between the SADC Private Sector Constituency and SADC Ministers of health in Victoria Falls in January 2015, where a SADC Task Force on innovative financing was established. SAP is providing technical expertise in the development of the portal. This is the first electronic platform of its kind ever to be developed in the region and will serve three main purposes:  to organize information on health projects from both the public and private sectors in order to encourage cross learning and sharing of best practices; to ensure that the sharing of expertise between the private and public sectors does not only reside in meetings of the group but can be an ongoing exercise; and to ensure that the initiatives by all sectors are recorded on an ongoing basis to feed into the initiatives led by the task force. This will help ensure that duplication is minimized.

The health portal will not only provide a platform for the exchange of knowledge on HIV, TB and Malaria in the region but will help all the stakeholders to synergize all necessary efforts in combating these diseases that have plagued Africa for a very long time. The portal will provide an opportunity for the private sector to take stock of the efforts that have been invested in fighting the diseases as we all pull together in an effort to eliminate HIV, malaria and tuberculosis in Southern Africa by 2030.

Since the formation of the task force, the following progress has been achieved:  

  • IOM has appointed a team to develop the content architecture of the portal.
  • A site map of the portal has been developed and shared with the Task Force in its second meeting in April. Information is being gathered from both private and public sector sources. Government counterparts, such as the Head of Communications in Health as well as Permanent Secretaries of Health, have been contacted to provide relevant information, such as policies and strategies, to feed into the portal.  
  • SAP has appointed a technical team to lead the design of the architecture of the portal.  They have since produced a draft. mock
  • A first mock of the portal has been developed and presented to the task force. It will be made accessible to gather input from the Ministers and Private Sector.
  • In May, during the World Health Assembly in Geneva, IOM presented an update regarding the development of the portal. The participants provided positive feedback following a walkthrough of the mock portal and committed to provide the necessary information from their countries in order to meet the deadline for the November SADC Ministers meeting, where it is expected that the portal will be launched.