AFRICA – Amref Health Africa, the largest health development non-governmental international organisation based in Africa, has partnered with Cognizant, an American multinational information technology services and consulting company, to look at ways of improving its training through technology.

The partnership was established after Amref was impressed by Cognizant’s approach to solving its problem and its openness to collaborating to ensure it takes advantage of Amref’s experience.

“Cognizant did not come in saying they were experts but wanted to know what the challenge was the context, and we could collaborate to create solutions,” said Diana Mukami, digital learning director at Amref Health Africa’s Institute of Capacity Development.

“This was attractive to us because we have the knowledge of six decades working in Africa and want to be part of the solution.”

The project to integrate digital tools is currently in the design phase. “They are looking at what we have in place and helping us to integrate the different tools,” she added. “They are not saying, ‘This is what you must use.”

So far, there have been a number of interactions with different teams, an analysis of what is required has been carried out, and now the project team is working on prototypes of what the solution will look like.

There are several challenges in embarking on a project like this in Africa, and Mukami believes it would not have been possible without the partnership with Cognizant.

“IT is really growing in the region and we do have the expertise, but Cognizant brings in a broadness of experience and expertise which we just do not have,” she said.

“Also, I don’t think we could ever afford a company like Cognizant, but as a partner, we can find things to do together.”

Creating efficiencies like this comes at a critical time for healthcare in Africa, which faces huge challenges. Mukami says there is an estimated six million shortfall in the number of health workers needed in Africa by 2030, while the population is growing and the challenges are increasing.

Beyond the project with Cognizant, Mukami says digital technology will play a major role in African healthcare going forward.

“We recognise the opportunities offered by technology and we are happy we are in a continent that has leapfrogged other regions because of the challenges we have,” she says.

“As the technology infrastructure has evolved, we as an organisation have adopted its use. Mobile technology has really supported our work because many communities in rural areas have access to a mobile phone and some connectivity.”

Amref will look to work with others to provide the IT skills to complement its 60 years of knowledge and experience. “We are not a tech company, so we look for partnerships to make sure we can take advantage,” concluded Mukami.

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