Yearb Med Inform 2017; 26(01): 298-299
DOI: 10.1055/s-0038-1635071
Information on IMIA Regional Groups
Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart

Helina Activities of the Pan African Health Informatics Association

Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
05 February 2018 (online)


Helina Conference 2017

A Call for Papers was sent out in November for full papers, work in progress, and case studies to be submitted for consideration for the HELINA 2017 conference. The HELINA Board appointed a scientific program committee and has been working with the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the Burundi Health Informatics Association to organise the 10th HELINA Conference in Bujumbura, Burundi, in 2017. The conference is expected to attract about 200 – 250 people from across the world. The title of the conference is “Integrated Health Information Management Resources for Global Healthcare Strategies”. The following topics are proposed as the main themes for the conference:

  • National and Regional eHealth Strategies and Policies

  • Health Information Systems Interoperability

  • Human Information Systems Interoperability

  • Human Capacity building for eHealth

  • Sustainable systems implementations

In September 2016, HELINA was invited to participate in the 4th Annual Africa Hospital Expansion Summit in Accra, Ghana. The Association was represented by Frances Baaba da-Costa Vroom, Secretary to the Board, and Dr. Innocent Nanan, Treasurer. Frances gave a presentation on behalf of HELINA on the topic “Converting a conventional hospital into digital one. Assuring connectivity and all-round ICT framework to boost the much needed investments in eHealth and centralized patient data management”. The conference was a good platform to promote HELINA and advertise the upcoming HELINA 2017 conference in Burundi. There were about 150 – 200 participants at this conference.


Activities of the Data Mining and Big Data Analytics Workgroup

This Working Group is chaired by Dr. Georges Nguefack-Tsague, Senior Lecturer of Biostatistics and Health Informatics at the Department of Public Health, University of Yaoundé, and Co-Chaired by Mr Samuel Dery, Assistant Lecturer at the Department of Biostatistics at the School of Public Health, University of Ghana. The objectives of the WG are:

  1. Promoting data mining and big data analytics in Africa;

  2. Promoting the secondary use of big data;

  3. Strengthening stakeholders in health informatics in Africa with practical (software based) skills in data mining and big data analytics.

The format of the Working Group is through work sets, consisting of members who have volunteered to give their time and expertise in specific planned activity on behalf of HELINA.

Each work set has a responsible coordinator. The role of the coordinator is to recruit and manage the activities and projects within the work sets and prepare progress reports for the Chair to present to both HELINA Board and HELINA General Assembly when requested.


Activities in 2016

A - Background

  1. The platform for web discussions has about 30 members (

  2. Activities of work set One: Analysing Demographics and Health Surveys (DHS) data in various African countries. The Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) Program has collected accurate and representative data on population, health, HIV, and nutrition through many African countries. This tremendous amount of information is freely available to the public and is underutilized. The objective of this work set is to promote the use of data mining techniques to analyse DHS data in various African countries.

At the Cameroon Health Research Forum (CaHReF) held on 23–26 August 2016 at Yaoundé, the following themes were accepted as abstract presentations by members (Cameroon, Benin, Burkina-Faso, Madagascar) of the work set One:

  • Factors affecting uptake of intermittent preventive treatment of Malaria among pregnant women in Cameroon (Dr. Georges Nguefack-Tsague, Cameroon)

  • Factors associated with intermittent preventive treatment of Malaria among pregnant women in Benin: 2011–2013 (Rémy Hounguevou, Benin)

  • Treatment or counselling of mothers toward fever in Burkina Faso-EIPBF 2014 (Mahamoudou Kabore, Burkina-Faso)

  • Determinants of uptake of intermittent preventive treatment of Malaria among pregnant women in Madagascar (Jean Baptiste Tarzan Ndremitsara, Madagascar)


Helina Education Working Group Report

HELINA Education working group was launched as an offcial working group (WG) under the leadership of Professor Graham Wright at the meeting of the HELINA Board on March 2015. The main aim of the working group is to foster the objectives and policies of HELINA by providing a platform for the development of initiatives to support the membership of HELINA in relationship with Health Informatics Education, Training, and Research.


Website Progress

A website for the HELINA Education Working Group has been set up at It currently has basic information on the WG, its aims and members, and on planned activities. Workset leaders will add further information on activity, and update aims and objectives.


Other Communication and Online Groups

A LinkedIn Group has been set up The one-stop access point for Health Informatics’ training materials will help to:

  • Reduce the time and effort to share content or learning materials across Africa.

  • Support re-use and re-purposing which is especially beneficial with Health informatics learning resources.

  • Allow cost efficiencies and decrease duplication of effort.

  • Encourage improvement in teaching practice and offer a one-stop access point for Health Informaticians and support course development.

  • Encourage multidisciplinary collaboration and sharing.

  • Provide 24/7/365 accessibility.

A YouTube repository of Keynote and Inaugural Addresses is being tested at which is intended to be the prime repository for video materials. Copies of Videos can be sent directly to: or shared with us through Drop box ID:

Nutefe Elikplim Achoribo (Coordinator work set Two)

Suggested playlists are Engineering for Change, Masterclass sessions, Health Informatics Research, Health Informatics Africa, What is Health Informatics?, keynotes, and inaugural addresses. It is hoped that HELI-NA events will stream into this repository.


HELINA Nursing Special Interest Group (NSIG) Report

The HELINA Nursing Special Interest Group (NSIG) was established by HELINA (The Pan African Health Informatics Association - in April 2016 from the Southern Africa Nursing Informatics SIG. The group has a LinkedIn site for communication and is represented on the IMIANI General Assembly by Professor Graham Wright who is a fellowship member of IMIANI. The group has been awarded the honour of organising the IMIA-NI 2018 congress in South Africa and suggested the title “Transformation through Implementation Science: using information to improve patient care”.

The format was expected to be different from a normal IMIA-NI congress and based on four colloquiums, each of which consists of a 90 minute research based presentation, followed by 30 minutes of questions. In addition, there will be a paper stream for expert and neophyte presenters with the latter being supported by the HELINA Education WG to prepare papers. After substantial effort by the team, it was agreed with the IMIA-NI not to pursue the event until the Board has undertaken significant review of the “lite” design of the congress.

The group is still exploring funding opportunities to run a colloquium and will be helping to organise the Nursing Informatics sessions at HELINA 2017 in Burundi. Electronic links on YouTube and LinkedIn have been set up to provide initial contact information


Journal of Health Informatics in Africa (JHIA)

JHIA has published a new issue in December 2016 with papers in French and English. According to the editor, Dalenca Pottas, the topics dealt with in the papers are varied yet common in striving to build on and improve capacity in resource constrained settings, whether for health care practitioners, healthcare institutions, or within communities. A special issue with best papers of the upcoming HELINA 2017 conference will be published in July 2017.



I would like to thank Frances Da-Costa Vroom, Professor Graham Wright, and Dr. Georges Nguefack-Tsague for their contribution to this report.

Regional Editor

Ghislain B. Kouematchoua Tchuitcheu, PhD IMIA Vice President for HELINA E-mail: