The European Commission has launched a project to improve health research and education in Africa by setting up excellence centres supported by advanced information and communications technologies (ICT). One of its foremost goals is to build networks of researchers and synergies with other cooperative health projects in Africa (e.g., led by Europe and the United States).
The ultimate aim of this project is to set up sustainable African networks of health researchers, educators and workers in order to improve healthcare and research across the African continent mediated by ICT.
ICT will provide support for building an open and collaborative platform, designed to develop and share new methods of education, training and knowledge exchange in professional and social networks and virtual communities of African and European researchers.
Africa Build kicked of in August 2011 and is scheduled for completion in 2014. The project, funded by the European Commission's HEALTH area, is led by the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid's Biomedical Informatics Group (GIB), based at the Facultad de Informática and directed by Prof. Victor Maojo.
Other Africa Build partners are the Universities of Geneva, Ghana, Bamako (Mali) and Yaounde I (Cameroon), the World Health Organization (Department of Reproductive Health), the Egyptian Ministry of Information and Communications Technologies and the Belgium Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp.
The project has several specific goals:
1. Develop a broad spectrum of e-learning courses on health, medical informatics and ICT (medical informatics and Web technologies).
2. Set up centres of excellence, with European assistance, in several African countries to employ specialized workers and purchase ICT equipment.
3. Encourage the use of advanced ICT (cloud and mobile computing, etc.) and medical informatics tools to improve health strategies in Africa. This way, Africa will be able to gain access to supercomputers and large software systems to store information and access and use open source software.