Jembi CEO, Dr Chris Seebregts, delivered an invited keynote presentation at Medinfo 2017 in HangZhou, China on 25 August 2017. The title of the keynote was Precision Global Public Health Informatics, in line with the conference theme of Precision Medicine.
Medinfo is the biannual conference organized by the International Medical informatics Association (IMIA) and is a flagship event for the international health informatics community with more than a thousand health informatics professionals from around the world attending the four day event.
In the keynote, Dr Seebregts described some of the informatics work that Jembi and others have been doing in Africa which is advancing precision global health. In the public health context, work has been done to strengthen and improve informatics tools for data collection as well as application of advanced techniques, such as knowledge representation and machine learning. It is recognized that this is needed in order to strengthen the public health response to infectious disease outbreaks and epidemics as well as emerging epidemics of non-communicable diseases.
Dr Seebregts commented, “It was a wonderful opportunity to attend the biannual Medinfo conference, again, and even more so to have been invited to deliver a keynote address which was a great honor.” He went on to explain: “Medinfo is a milestone event for Jembi. Medinfo has only ever been held once before on the African continent and that was in 2010 in Cape Town. Jembi organized an OpenMRS Implementers meeting in parallel to Medinfo 2010 and also presented its first ever interoperability demonstration using open source software technologies at this conference. This was both the culmination of Jembi’s important work on the Rwanda Enterprise Architecture (RHEA) project and the beginning of the Open Health Information Exchange (OpenHIE) work.”
Dr Seebregts also explained that it is important to have African representation at these international conferences to ground some of the important work of the global health community in the realities of low resource settings. Although resources are constrained, there is still opportunity for application of advanced informatics solutions and, in addition, there are often opportunities for the development of leapfrog technologies, as was the case with mobile technologies. Medinfo is a great event to explore these ideas and also to mobilize the international community around the problems and requirements of low resource settings. The organizers of the upcoming Medinfo conference, in 2019 in France, have committed to trying to find a way for African presenters to be involved in the event and to potentially present their work remotely by video conference.