Africa Health 2022 held at Gallagher Estate in Johannesburg
After a two-year hiatus, Africa Health 2022 brought together Africa's healthcare community under one roof for this three-day-event at Johannesburg’s Gallagher Estate. “The 10th Annual Africa Health Congress brings together healthcare professionals from multiple disciplines to promote discussion and thought leadership on the advancement of healthcare in the region,” says Solenne Singer, Group Director (Healthcare) at Informa Markets Healthcare. This congress addresses the needs of African healthcare professionals, share strategies that are transforming the future of medicine, and examine the latest disruptions in healthcare driving the transformation of the continent.
Singer says the appetite from exhibitors and delegates to come back to an in-person format event has been strong. “The conference rooms are packed, there was a queue of people outside waiting to come in. It shows that buyers and sellers are eager to sit across from each other again in the same room, to do business. Clinicians and healthcare professionals are all here, to discuss every aspect of the work they do for people across Africa.”
Putting together an event such as this, she adds, comes with a whole new set of challenges and considerations. “The last time we had an in-person type of Africa Health was in 2019. The pandemic showed how we can incorporate digital elements into our service offering, which makes virtual meetings and hybrid sessions part and parcel of our physical format. We have found ways of still including those exhibitors who couldn’t make their way to Gallagher this year.”
Key conference highlights on day one included Imaging and Diagnostics, Quality Management and Patient Safety, CSSD, and Emergency Medicine. Parallel to these conferences, a series of talks and discussions focused on transforming the future of healthcare.
The Transformation Talks and Techquity Talks unveil future predictions, new technologies and innovations that will change the way we diagnose and treat disease.
Day One included talks on Introducing AWS for Health: How we are helping customers improve quality of care delivery across Africa, and, Advancing health equity through technology – how much potential is there in Africa?
“All conference sessions this year have been made free to attend, as part of our contribution to the sustainability and longevity of the healthcare sector in Africa. We consider it our way of commemorating 10 years of hosting this event. On Friday, we will be announcing the winners of a contest that aims to promote excellence in medical academia in Africa,” says Singer.
The three days of Africa Health also include exhibitions where the latest medical products and technologies are on display. Delegates and conference attendees can also take part in virtual meetings by visiting any of the “smart” stands that have been erected.
Day Two: Public Health and Nursing Takes Central Stage
The event this year commemorates a decade of bringing the world’s best medical minds to one location in Johannesburg. “We are honoured to have a very strong international representation at this year’s event. The use of technology means that we have been able to erect ‘smart’ exhibition stands where attendees can virtually interact with those exhibitors who were not able to be here in person. The Conference also has an online element this year which allows for virtual meetings and engagement between exhibitors and potential buyers.
“As organisers we have learned the power of virtual meetings over the past two years. We have married this with an in-person format to bring delegates and visitors the best of both worlds for this year’s event,” says Solenne Singer, Group Director (Healthcare) at Informa Markets Healthcare.
Delegates and visitors had the option of attending any of the various CPD-accredited conferences,which have been made free to attend this year or to interact with any of the exhibitors who have brought their products and services to the event.
“We have two main exhibition halls, where people can interact with any of the country stands or with the medical product developers. We have large representation from Germany, the UK and China this year but we’re also honoured to have a strong presence from local and African partners. Amazon Web Services, GE Healthcare and Dräger are just some of the big names that are exhibiting this year. My team and I put together the event to try and get the best mix of medical brains and know-how in the same room so that knowledge and skills can be shared. I am happy that we seem to have succeeded in this goal,” says Singer.
Visitors spent hours interacting with the latest technological developments and products, to learn how technology is changing the healthcare space in Africa. One such product is a health information exchange hub.
Sparked by the need for patient-centric innovation that drives efficiencies, the CareConnect Health Information Exchange is a single integration hub that links patient information from all sources – healthcare facilities, funders and clinicians – in the interest of delivering better, timeous and more efficient healthcare. A first for South Africa, the CareConnect HIE conforms to both local and international data privacy regulations, such as ISO 27001/27701 and POPIA.
A key element of Africa Health is its various academic conferences. The focus on Thursday shifted to Public Health, Nursing, Infection Control and Medical Device Procurement. Attendees discussed topics such as:
• Population and public health beyond the pandemic
• Nursing Lessons Learnt from the Pandemic
• Three pillars – patient, staff and environment
• Maximising the value chain.
The Transformation Zone is a new feature to this year’s Africa Health edition. It gives emerging leaders and trailblazers the chance to share their insights on what is driving innovation and transformation in the African healthcare space.
Ten speakers delivered 10 engaging talks over the three days of Africa Health. On Thursday, the topics included Powering healthcare quality and patient outcomes in Africa, The impact of telemedicine and point of care testing, Improving acute care through the internet of medical things and AI as a catalyst to healthcare democratization.
“Sustainability is a motivating force for everything we do for the planet and for the medical fraternity. For example, we have gone paperless this year with our attendee registration badges. On Friday we will announce the winners of a cash prize for academic excellence following a contest between medical faculties on the continent. This is our way of giving back to the African healthcare community,” says Singer.
Africa Health concludes by awarding its first Africa Medical Research Grant
The winners of a competition to honour excellence in Africa’s medical faculties were announced. “We made a deliberate decision to focus more on sustainability as a theme in how we put together this year’s event. It has been two years since we last held an in-person gathering and we needed to acknowledge that the world is a different place than the last time we were all together. There is a greater need to ‘give back’ and to work for the betterment of healthcare services into the future,” explains Singer.
She said this is why they developed the Africa Medical Research Grant, which would for the first time be awarded at this year’s gathering. “We invited medical schools from across Africa to submit current cutting-edge research papers for consideration. A panel of experts chose the best three, who were invited to present these papers at our event. The winning faculty would receive a cash prize, which we hope will go some way towards ensuring sustainability in medical research and training in Africa.”
Universities were invited to send top research submissions from their PhD students in the following categories: Women’s health; Laboratory Medicine; Public Health; Quality Management and Infection control.
The three finalists were invited to present their papers at the conference on Friday.
• Hyperglycaemia in pregnancy in South Africa: closing the gaps - Dr Ankia Coetzee, University of Stellenbosch
• Impact of HIV infection on pre-treatment hematologic markers and innate effector cells among cervical cancer patients in Botswana: implications on overall survival - Kebatshabile Ngoni, University of Botswana
• A programme to support the development of ultrasound skills for midwives practicing in primary healthcare facilities in Gauteng - Yasmin Casmod, University of the Witwatersrand
“On Friday, we were happy to announce that Dr Coetzee’s paper was the winner,” says Singer. The US$5 000 first prize will go to her medical faculty, at Stellenbosch University.
Dr Coetzee explained to the attendees that the grant would go a long way in their studies into transgenerational research within the medical world. “We are not only trying to impact this generation but also the generation to come, and pregnant women are the window to future health.” She adds that type 2 diabetes is one of the many threats to unborn babies, and they aim to help expecting mothers and their unborn children in combating this disease.
Africa Health again selected a charity organisation that would receive a cash sum collected from exhibitors’ fees from event proceeds. A R150 000 cheque was handed over to Youth Health Africa, a youth-focused organisation addressing key social determinants of health and youth unemployment through various integrated and innovative interventions.
Their CEO Bulelani Kuwane commented that this investment would go a long way as the help decrease the high percentage of unemployment among the young. The money will assist them in their upskilling programme which runs for 12 months, and guides young people in their area into how to find permanent employment or own their own businesses.
This was the tenth edition of this medical and healthcare event, the largest gathering of its kind in Africa.
Africa Health 2023
The largest healthcare gathering in the African region will be back on 25 to 27 October 2023.