GHF: Discussing quality of care, exploring Ophthalmology & adding digital power

Quality of Health systems - the missing piece between better access and improved health 

The 7th Edition of the Geneva Health forum was kick-started with a lively discussion around the conceptual framework of quality of care. Margaret Kruk eloquently emphasised on the importance of quality of health systems, looking beyond the more classical notion of quality care and quality improvement approaches. Quality of health systems foster inclusiveness and not exclusiveness, broadly defined as " consistently delivering care that improves or maintains health, valued and trusted by all people", not a goal we should strive for in the next 20 years - but  one which needs our focus and attention right now.




PS1-2: Insight into Ophthalmology in the developing world: Now and the future 

International Ophthalmology is not about fancy solutions or exotic programmes no; it is about basic eye health care and the awareness of its importance in LMCs. In most LMCs, eye health is not in the first place when it comes to health treatment. In LMCs, NCDs are on the rise and the connection between diabetes and eye health care is often not understood. Fact is that 300 millions people are visually impaired and 50 million are blind. But the real burden lies in the accessibility of the physicians, how eye health is perceived, and that there too little physicians.

How to overcome this burden? First, through the universal health coverage approach of WHO basic health care must be included. Second, e-health and telemedicine facilitated the accessibility of ophthalmologist in remote areas. Last but not least, in the spirit of the new SDG agenda, increasing the awareness of eye health contributes to different goals, such as education, poverty and equity.

Our job is not done with implementing some of the mentioned solutions, but we will get one step closer to our goal; basic eye health care for everyone.


PS1-4: Adding digital power to research ethics review 

As Carell IJsselmuiden  (COHRED, Switzerland) explained while introducing this session, it is expensive and time consuming to properly train professionals for research ethics reviews, and classical training is no longer enough. With a focus on the African continent, the three speakers come up  with solutions to go over the challenge of the 34 thousand clinical trials expected in Africa in the next couple of decades. No more paper-based systems delaying discoveries, we need the support of digital power.

Francis Kombe (COHRED, Kenya) presented the online platform RHInnO Ethics, created in 2013 and pioneer on the continent, on which ethics committees can sign up. This platform contributes to progress by bringing together expert decisions and methods ; connecting committees and sharing information ; and providing face-to-face trainings. Of course, one of the main challenges which comes along digital progress is that of storage of database. Adriaan Kruger (TCD, South Africa) explains how new actors are arriving on the continent, and how public-private partnerships such as TDC & COHRED, driven by a common goal, use the access to host - such as Amazon Web Services, in order to improve research ethics in Africa.

Digital power will also bring efficiency in emergency situations in LMICs. Luchuo Engelbert Bain (Vrije University, Amsterdam) highlights two problems in emergency situations : a neglect of sociocultural societies and local contexts, and the slowness of Research Ethics Committees, which must work faster in order to be more efficient. Digital power and platforms such as RHInnO Ethics will help speeding the process of identification and sharing, and will help filling the gap of capacity.


Written by:

Sylvia Basterrechea, Marie Louise Franziska Sieber and Nefti-Eboni Bempong.