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AFRICA BUILD Partners Meet in Accra, Ghana

Between March 5th and 9th 2012, partners of the Africa Build Consortium met at the University of Ghana in Accra. The Accra meeting discussed activities relating to work packages three (building a collaborative and training infrastructure) and six (pilot and validation) of the project. This meeting was significant in the life course of the project in the sense that it was the first meeting following the kick off meeting in Madrid. Additionally, it was held in Ghana which is one of the African country partners.

Participants of the Technical WorkshopParticipants of the Technical Workshop

The five day meeting had two main sessions. The first three days were focused on technical sessions focused on developing the eLearning infrastructure while the remaining two days focused on engineering the pilot and validation. Sandwiched between these two sessions was a seminar on Biomedical informatics at the school of Public Health.

The infrastructure development session which began on Monday, 5th March involved the IT developers from all the partners present at the meeting. The sessions were facilitated by the representatives of the University Polytechnic of Madrid (Victor Maojo, Ana Jiménez Castellanos and Máximo Ramirez Robles). Presentations and demonstration sessions were used to introduce the African partner developers to the portal, indicating which components have been developed already as well as the components remaining to be developed collaboratively as part of the portal. As part of these sessions, the discussions focused on objectives of the work package, the software needs (in this case ELGG (an open source social networking application), as well as development of widgets for the platform being developed.

On the third day, Prof Victor Maojo of the University Polytechnic of Madrid gave a two hour Seminar on “Biomedical Informatics Situation and Challenges for Africa”. This Seminar was well attended by faculty and staff of the University of Ghana as well as stakeholders in the health and Informatics community in Accra. The seminar covered the history of health informatics as it progressed from its use in the business arena into its health applications until now. The challenges encountered in the use of information technologies as experienced in Western countries were also discussed. Eventually, Professor Maojo concluded that African countries have an opportunity to successfully transition from paper based health records to electronic health records. In total, about 150 participants were recorded in attendance at the Seminar. At the end of the Seminar opportunity was given for participants to ask questions.

SeminarSeminar

The last two days of the meeting was used to discuss implementation of the pilot and validation components of the project. This section of the meeting was led by representatives of the Institute of Tropical Medicine, in Belgium (ITM), the University of Geneva and the World Health Organization (WHO). Presentations in this session were made by Mandana Mehta, Asa Cuzin-Kihl, Caroline Franck, Máximo Ramirez Robles and Maria Zolfo. The discussions centered around identifying the targets for the pilot, content of the curriculum, format and structure of the courses to be developed as well as identification of the faculty who will be involved in delivering the content.

At the end of these sessions, some time was dedicated to discussing timelines for delivering on outcomes of the work packages and decisions made regarding expectations from the partners.