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ABDC series week 5: How blockchain can be used in healthcare

Week 5 of the weekend series of the African Blockchain Developers Call, a web conference series aimed at increased participation and adoption of blockchain solutions, was held on the 3rd of October, 2020 where the theme “Blockchain in Health” was explored and examined by experts and professionals in the blockchain space. The future of health was discussed and how blockchain solutions can drive innovation in the healthcare sector.

In his Keynote Address, Mr. Arnab Paul, Focus Group Member, AI for Health, World Health Organization (WHO) and the President of the Government Blockchain Association, Kolkata Chapter, India, advocated that Africa stands a great chance in revolutionizing the healthcare sector through effective application of blockchain solutions. He stated that to effectively implement blockchain solutions into healthcare, collaboration between tech and health professionals is key to further ensure the improvement in healthcare delivery. He mentioned that blockchain solutions could help health institutions improve services like record management, accountability, healthcare surveillance, outbreak management services and more health related services. He stated that blockchain tech would go a long way in helping Africa fight the COVID 19 pandemic and improve delivery of services in healthcare across the continent.

Ochoche Ubenyi, the CEO of Nimedix, highlighted Nimedix’s platform efforts in revolutionizing healthcare delivery by using blockchain technology to reduce medical tourism and enhance contact tracing in Nigeria and Africa. He stated that the inadequacy of Doctors in Nigeria for the sick population makes the work of the platform important  in filling the loopholes in health services by using patients’ data. He mentioned that Nimedix helps in tracing pandemic exposure through user permission to supply information on where an individual may have exposed to infectious diseases like COVID 19 to further render effective health delivery. He emphasized that the platform runs on blockchain solutions to render its services and that blockchain technology would go a long way in ensuring that the healthcare sector addresses health problems adequately.

In Medical Chain’s platform presentation, Muhammed Tayeb stated that the platform was created as a health record that can be controlled and shared by the user. He mentioned that the platform is aimed at creating a portable health record that can be with the user everywhere and can be easily be accessed to track progress in patients health. He stated that the platform helps health institutions in getting an accurate glimpse of the patient’s state of health and ensure that an individual’s record is not confused with someone else. The platform, through its mobile application, helps patients connect with Doctors online who address their health problems.

He stated that the platform also built an Health Passport Chain, which runs as a biomedical chain using blockchain solutions in rendering health services. He mentioned that the platform aids telemedicine by adopting blockchain solutions to improve the quality of healthcare services rendered to patients and users by using their health data and records.

Dr. Macharia Wariungi stated that Ubrica is built to ensure the wellness and wellbeing of individuals. He stated that the platform is aimed reduce the inadequacies in access, quality and cost of care rendered to populations. He stated that the platform has built Retail Clinics in physical marketplaces in Kenya to allow trade around these centers, thereby facilitating trade and commerce. He mentioned that through Ubricoin, villagers can trade with ease, thereby bringing village markets into the cyberspace. He states that the platform aids the manufacturing of local health products to reduce the cost of medicines in Africa. He states that the platform uses blockchain technologies to aid care delivery and decentralized markets in Africa.

Panel session discussion on the role of blockchain in healthcare

The Combined Panel Session was graced by supply chain professionals like Helen Disney, Founder of Unblocked; Dr. Macharia Wariungi, Muhammed Tayeb, Raja Sharrif and Ochoche Ubenyi who all prescribed ideas on the session theme and issues emerging in the healthcare sector.

Helen Disney posited that privacy of data, portability of data and patient empowerment is enhanced and promoted when blockchain solutions are adopted to health sectors. She also mentioned that the security of records in the blockchain allows for the integrity of health records as records cannot be tampered easily. She stated that more orientation must be stimulated on distributed ledger technology in the healthcare sector to further drive innovation in the delivery of health.

She further argued that the development of financial sectors is interconnected with healthcare as finance drives adoption of blockchain solutions in the health sector. She stated that institutions should add incentives to health services to further stimulate awareness and participation in new technologies in Africa.

Ochoche Ubenyi argued that innovation in the health sector through blockchain technologies would aid the economic and direct impact health of individuals.  He said so much could be done with data with blockchain technologies. He stated that fraud and lack of transparency amongst healthcare professionals hinders the adoption of blockchain in health and this makes interest in blockchain solutions low in the sector. He stated that Nimedix aids healthcare in localities as it allows data to be shared via the cyberspace to get online diagnosis to enhance the wellbeing of individuals. He urged that medical drain should be reduced and more efforts must made to ensure efficiency in healthcare delivery in Africa, thereby curbing medical tourism and stimulate development.

Muhammed Tayeb argued that more control would be excercised over records and data, allowing for more privacy rights over data as there is transparency in the blockchain. He stated that health institutions should indulge in technologies that are more open source to further aid proper access to data and enhance quality delivery to patients. He advocated that records on paper should be rendered into digital forms to make blockchain solutions more realistic to adopt in Africa.

Dr. Macharia Wariungi expressed optimism in the acceptance of blockchain solutions in health sector and urged government institutions to further stimulate growth and development in the health sector. He argued that there is need for massive public education to stimulate interest in blockchain technologies to healthcare to make its delivery more efficient. He advocated that more infrastructure should be in place to allow the left out population would be able to benefit from the innovations of blockchain solutions in health.

Raja Sharrif explained that his platform, Farma Trust tracks products from the point of production to consumption and blockchain solutions aids efficiency in the rendition of their services. He argued that the authenticity of records provided by blockchain makes it more useful in emerging markets towards the efficiency of healthcare. He stated that blockchain solutions would make workers get better jobs through distributed ledger technologies in health. He urged African countries to adopt blockchain neutrality towards revolutionization in the healthcare sector.

The panelists proffered solutions to be adopted to ensure the speedy implementation of blockchain solutions to the health sector in promoting healthcare delivery and innovations in the sector.

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