Project outline and goal

VODAN-Africa aims to unleash the full potential of health data for African countries. It is set up as the independent, trustworthy, and safe federated infrastructure that is a boundary condition to provide insights in population health, in risk stratification and workable health interventions and ultimately in effective treatment and health interventions. To that extend, VODAN is built on Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Re-usable (FAIR), machine-actionable data.

VODAN-A creates solutions for current challenges like the lack of data-governance, the lack of data-use and reuse, the poverty-based bias, the lack of interoperability of data and finally the inadequacy and lack of representativeness of data from Africa in global health analytics and health innovation.

Initially functioning as an early warning system for viral outbreaks, VODAN has already (Nov 2022) been deployed in 88 health facilities across 8 African countries, including Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, Somalia, Liberia, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania.

North star is to create a federated African Health Data Space.


Ecosystem players involved

VODAN-Africa was established in 2020 under the Kampala International University (KIU) in Uganda and is governed by an international VODAN-Africa board, formed by Country Coordinators who are responsible for the implementation in their respective geographies.

Over 20 organizations help develop and expand the VODAN-A project. DCCC helped design the strategy and several DCCC member organizations also play an active role in furthering this project, including AMREF, Medtronic LABS, PharmAccess, Philips and the Philips Foundation.


Anticipated outcomes and impact

The most remarkable outcome that has been realized is invisible – yet essential: trusted relations between the 88 care facilities across 8 countries.

Direct deliverable by 2024 (end of phase one) will be extensive real-time machine actionable FAIR data that includes the data from patient records of 200 clinics from 15 countries covering all regions in Africa with special focus on data from outpatients and mother and child antenatal care. This includes all conditions contributing to the deliverable: a standing organization, software, platform, data stewardship, and more.

Direct beneficiaries are the outpatients and patients visiting the maternal and child antenatal care units of those 200 facilities. Based on insights derived from the data, improved, more effective health interventions can be given. In addition, the health administrators, health workers and health policy makers responsible for the catchment areas will have factual, data-based insights in population health and the effect of their health interventions.

The indirect beneficiaries at the end of this period would include over 50 million individuals living in the catchment areas of these 200 health facilities, representing 5% of the African population in health data by the year 2024.


Potential for scalability / next steps 

The federated nature of VODAN-Africa, its machine actionable data and the inherent data sovereignty allow for VODAN-A to mature into a federated, financially self-supporting social venture. The present phase consolidates the open source-based architecture for FAIR quality and structured African digital health data, abiding to national legal structures and ethical considerations. A base will be laid for financial sustainability as well.

VODAN is currently seeking a budget to conclude the first phase, resulting in establishment and testing of the VODAN-A Services Business Model within an established Africa Health Data Space including 200 connected care providers.

Following this there are high level plans for phase 2 and phase 3 operations, which run until 2032 ultimately entailing the expansion to the full Africa continental coverage and creation of interoperability with other continental health data spaces.


Opportunities for other organizations in the project

VODAN-A has been a collaborative effort from the start. With solid foundations and a flexible way of working, there are multiple ways to join and add to this initiative:

  • Join with your clinics to add to and get insights in country-level and cross-country data
  • Invest in development of the VODAN organization
  • Help develop use cases and business cases with VODAN
  • Help strengthening the care chain by including primary to tertiary care data
  • Invest in service delivery by VODAN – or by services like data stewardship training right away

Please note: we are looking for contributors and collaborators, aimed at jointly creating value – and ultimately jointly benefiting from it, as well.

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