Feb 13, 2021

Medics.Academy invests in Ethiopia’s women in healthcare

digital healthcare
Digital Transformation
healthcare inequalities
online learning
Leila Hawkins
2 min
Medics.Academy invests in Ethiopia’s women in healthcare
UK-based health tech startup Medics.Academy aims to drive digital transformation of Ethiopia’s healthcare by investing in women clinicians...

A British health tech startup focused on facilitating access to medical education worldwide has signed an agreement to help women physicians in Ethiopia. 

Partnering with the Ethiopian Medical Women’s Association (EMeWA), Medics.Academy will be investing £250,000 to build a new learning community that will provide digital access to training, with the aim of supporting 70% of female clinicians in Ethiopia over the next 5 years. 

One of Africa’s poorest nations (with 45% of the population living below the poverty line), major health concerns include maternal mortality, malaria, tuberculosis, HIV and AIDS, along with acute malnutrition and a lack of access to clean water and sanitation. The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified Ethiopia as one of 57 countries with a chronic shortage of health workers, and there is a large inequality between rural and urban areas due to severe under-funding of the health sector, making access to healthcare very difficult for many. 

Ethiopia’s healthcare workforce is largely composed of women, however they face disparities when it comes to leadership positions. EMeWA was established in 2017 by women in the medical profession, to bridge the gap between opportunities and challenges faced by female physicians and women in communities.  

EMeWA’s partnership with Medics.Academy has been endorsed by the Ministry of Health of Ethiopia, and by championing access to online education, aims to drive digital transformation to help address the country’s health workforce needs, promote professional development, and achieve greater representation and leadership of women in medicine.

Dr Lia Tadesse, Ethiopia’s Minister of Health, said: “Professional development of women in healthcare is an area of priority for us in Ethiopia. Even though women make up the larger proportion in the healthcare industry, they are not visible in leadership as we want them to be due to the various challenges they face to advance their professional growth. 

“As a result, we have few women representation in places where their voice matters and their contributions are vital. This partnership will help change this by creating an innovative learning hub that will help women foster their leadership role and advance in their careers.”

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Jun 23, 2021

NHSX releases new data plans, experts call for transparency

medicalrecords
patientdata
NHS
privacy
3 min
NHSX has published a new strategy for patient data sharing, with experts calling for transparency

Patients in England will get "greater control" over their health and care data according to new proposals set out by the government. 

In a new draft strategy called "Data saves lives: reshaping health and social care with data", Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock says that more effective use of data will deliver better patient-focused care. "This strategy seeks to put people in control of their own data, while supporting the NHS in creating a modernised system fit for the 21st century which puts patients and staff in pole position." 

Under the new plans people will be able to access their medical records from different parts of the health system through different applications, to access test results, medication lists, procedures and care plans. 

The strategy, published by NHSX, the government department that sets policies for the use of technology within the NHS, follows delays to the creation of a central database of patient records amid concerns over data sharing and a lack of transparency, with critics saying that only a small proportion of the public were made aware of the plans and the choice to opt out. 

Kevin Curran,  senior member of The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Professor of Cybersecurity at the University of Ulster, says that moving health records online raises concerns. "The move to an online app does seem like a natural progression, however there is a difference between having computerised records within our healthcare IT infrastructure and having those records reside on a public facing server. 

"Having records inhouse limits the range and type of access – it's far more difficult for remote hackers" Curran said. "There are techniques that healthcare organisations can use to reduce the risk of future data breaches. One way is to make it ‘opt in’, so patients have the choice to decide whether their medical information is moved to a public facing service so that they can access it. 

"However, those who do not opt in or download the app instead should have their records hosted in a non-public-facing cloud service. This way, if a data breach does occur, those who never used the app, or not wanted to, will not have had their details released." 

The new strategy has been welcomed by some, with an emphasis on the need for transparency.  Adam Steventon, Director of Data Analytics at the Health Foundation, said: "Health data has played a critical role in the last year – from tracking COVID-19 outbreaks and developing treatments, to getting people booked in for their vaccines. It is critical that the use of data is accelerated if the NHS is to tackle the backlog of care and address the massive health challenges facing the country. 

"It is particularly positive that the government has committed to building analytical and data science capability in the NHS and to improving data on social care. To ensure the full potential of data can be realised, the government must ensure transparency on how it will be used and the rights and options people have, as well as engaging with the public and health care professionals to build trust and show people how their data can improve the NHS and save lives." 

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