Middle East and North African Health Informatics Association (MENAHIA): Building Sustainable Collaboration
22 April 2018 (eFirst)
There has been a growing interest in Health Informatics applications, research, and education within the Middle East and North African Region over the past twenty years. People of this region share similar cultural and religious values, primarily speak the Arabic language, and have similar health care related issues, which are in dire need of being addressed. Health Informatics efforts, organizations, and initiatives within the region have been largely under-represented within, but not ignored by, the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA). Attempts to create bonds and collaboration between the different organizations of the region have remained scattered, and often, resulted in failure despite the fact that the need for a united health informatics collaborative within the region has never been more crucial than today. During the 2017 MEDINFO, held in Hangzhou, China, a new organization, the Middle East and North African Health Informatics Association (MENAHIA) was conceived as a regional non-governmental organization to promote and facilitate health informatics uptake within the region endorsing health informatics research and educational initiatives of the 22 countries represented within the region. This paper provides an overview of the collaboration and efforts to date in forming MENAHIA and displays the variety of initiatives that are already occurring within the MENAHIA region, which MENAHIA will help, endorse, support, share, and improve within the international forum of health informatics.