In the field of global health, we have some of the most effective clinical tools and interventions available, so why is sickness and death still so commonplace in Africa and other lower middle income countries (LMICs)? This question has become even more crucial in recent months as COVID-19 has increased its penetration in developing regions, and remains urgent for diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and HIV.
The answer is health interventions are not getting to all who need them. It is an equity, access, and coverage problem – not everyone is reached. Studies show that in traditional public health campaigns, field teams often miss 40 percent of the population they were meant to cover with interventions like malaria bed nets or antibiotics for neglected tropical diseases. While reports may indicate high service coverage, the true picture shows huge swathes of the population are actually missed and do not receive life saving interventions. On the ground challenges are typically to blame like extreme rural environments, large areas cut off due to seasonal weather, and humanitarian crises.
However, promising strategies and innovations in the field of spatial intelligence and digital mapping are coming online to address this issue of populations being missed by health services. This involves a nexus of public health and earth observation (EO) data which is creating a whirlwind of exciting new ways to put the power of spatial data into the hands of local field workers to ensure everyone receives the health services that they need. This area represents exciting new integrations of technologies which are showing promise to deliver some of the greatest impact in global public health.
This workshop focuses on how these tools are being applied to improve the reach, equity and impact of life-saving health interventions. Examples brought from stakeholders across sub saharan Africa will describe how the power of spatial intelligence is now informing the actions of on-the-ground health workers as they seek to reach ‘last mile’ communities with health campaigns like vaccinations and drug delivery. Lessons learned, approaches used and questions to guide future innovations and their applications will be discussed.
The format of this workshop will include short panel presentations from local and global stakeholders (on the ground health implementers as well as , technical leads in health and earth observation). A vibrant round table discussion will then be held focused on current solutions as well as remaining challenges to getting the greatest equity and impact from health campaigns. Discussions will then move towards what new strategies, innovations and collaborations must be formed to quickly address these challenges and shift the paradigm to achieve health equity in LMICs.