IBM Health Corps, in partnership with the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Clinton Health Access Initiative, has developed a new eHealth platform intended to help improve cancer care in sub-Saharan Africa.
Referred to as ChemoQuant, the open platform is designed to help healthcare workers compare prices, drug treatments and manufacturers to ensure that patients receive the correct and most effective cancer treatment.
While the number of cancer cases is increasing across Africa – the ACS predicts the number of cases to double by 2030 to around 1.3 million – the region is unable to provide appropriate treatment due to the lack of doctors and medical specialists as well as healthcare facilities and resources. In addition, only a few African countries have working cancer registries, making it difficult to effectively track diagnoses and treatment.
“The market for cancer treatment right now in sub-Saharan Africa is extremely dysfunctional. There’s a lot of inefficiency in the market and that translates into expensive products so governments are paying more than they should and so they’re not getting the products they need,” said Director of Global Cancer Treatment for the ACS, Meg O’Brien, in an interview with Quartz Africa.
ChemoQuant collects patient data, including patient numbers and types of cancer, using IBM analytics and cloud technology and then applies calculations that pharmacists and doctors typically use to forecast the quantity of drugs they need.
According to O’Brien, the platform can show which treatments a given region or healthcare facility actually needs. “It’s really just a tool that helps government quantify how much of each product they need in order to provide effective treatment,” said O’Brien.
ChemoQuant could also help with chemotherapy drug procurement by allowing several countries with common needs to come together to buy in bulk, allowing them to purchase directly from the supplier at a lower cost.
As a result, according to the developers, the ultimate goal of ChemoQuant is to provide a platform for different national health ministries to work together and negotiate prices and ordering of medicines as a regional bloc. As more governments and practitioners use ChemoQuant, the more information will be available to improve cancer treatment in sub-Saharan Africa.
The developers hope to launch ChemoQuant first in Ethiopia and Rwanda during 2017 followed by a rollout in other regions.