Health care delivery constraints: Internet access

by Anjali Sastry on May 16, 2010

What have we learned from two years, 100 students, and 25 G-Lab GHD projects in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Zambia, and Malawi? That we are lucky to partner with amazing leaders and organizations to learn first-hand about the needs and opportunities for delivering health care in resource-limited settings.  That in some ways, Africa has much to teach us about innovation, new ways to use mobile technology, and the art of getting things done amid challenges. But it has also made us grateful for the internet access that we too often take for granted. The lack of internet access is what my physician colleagues call a rate-limiting factor.

This blog post is the first in a series reflecting on what we have learned about constraints to health care delivery in sub-Saharan Africa. We start with a quick look at internet access.

Many of our students came back talking about the huge needs and opportunities around information and communications technology in the villages, clinics, and hospitals where they worked. This is exactly what co-founder and CTO Paul English has been focusing on, and he’s now embarking on JoinAfrica—an (appropriately) ambitious venture.  Here’s the overview of the effort to blanket all of Africa with free and low-cost Wi-Fi, in a recent Fast Company article.

Here’s a thoughtful blog post by Alex Twinomugisha, Why Are African Internet Access Prices Still High?  To start learning about the situation, take a look at the reports and statistics from the International Telecommunications Union along with the site Internet World Stats. For news on ICT in Africa, start with

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Pradeep Suthram October 14, 2010 at 7:51 pm

This is a very important issue and it’s great to hear that there are such skilled students working on it. If like in India, most African villages are in proximity to a city, your teams can consider using local wimax / wireless n networks. Hope that helps.

Pamela November 17, 2010 at 7:54 am

Upon attending a Google sponsored Global Health discussion event last year, this was one of the facets discussed, and it made for an interesting conversation. Although Africa is the last continent to fully grasp the information highway, they use the arguement of South America, and that even though they have access, most of the people, even trained professionals, do not utilize the resources such as medical knowledge and

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