Delegates at the recent UNGA Science Summit were introduced to the potential of digital diagnostics to transform healthcare in low resource settings in Africa. The event, held virtually on September 14th, showcased the next generation of rapid, point-of-care diagnostics that are currently in development. These innovative technologies have the potential to ensure patients receive appropriate treatment and to integrate data for better public health decision-making.
The session, convened Imperial College London’s Global Development Hub and the Digital Diagnostics for Africa Network (DIDA), brought together leaders in digital diagnostics to demonstrate the transformative capabilities of these technologies. Professor Aubrey Cunnington, part of the DIDA management team, expressed excitement about the event’s ability to showcase the potential of digital diagnostics and improve access to diagnostics and overall health.
The importance of health diagnostics in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was also recognized at the UNGA Science Summit. A recent resolution passed at the 2023 World Health Assembly highlighted the significance of diagnostics for improving global health. Given that millions of people die each year from infectious diseases, early and accurate diagnosis is crucial for effective treatment and prevention. However, many African countries lack the necessary resources and infrastructure for disease diagnosis and tracking. Digital diagnostics offer a solution providing portable, accurate diagnostics at the point-of-care.
To address this need, the Digital Diagnostics for Africa Network (DIDA) was established as an international collaborative network of researchers and innovators. This interdisciplinary network aims to develop innovative digital diagnostic approaches for infectious and non-infectious diseases, including malaria, tuberculosis, and sickle cell disease. Professor Halidou Tinto, a member of DIDA, emphasized the potential impact of this initiative on African countries and the importance of introducing new digital diagnostic platforms to address diagnostic limitations.
During the Science Summit, speakers from Imperial College London, University of Glasgow, University College London, Africa CDC, SickleInAfrica, minoHealth AI Labs, and ProtonDx showcased their experiences and expertise in developing and testing transformative digital diagnostics technologies in Africa. These technologies include point-of-care molecular detection tests for infectious diseases, artificial intelligence image analysis for disease diagnosis, and data-driven decision support tools for newborn infants with infections.
The session at the UNGA Science Summit provided a platform to discuss and catalyze further discussion among policy makers, funders, and scientists. It highlighted how digital diagnostics can revolutionize healthcare in low- and middle-income countries, particularly underserved areas of Africa, providing fast, accurate, affordable, and connected diagnostics and decision support where it is most needed.
– Imperial College London Global Development Hub
– Digital Diagnostics for Africa Network (DIDA)