University of Botswana and Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting Co. Ltd. (MURC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to undertake collaborative efforts and establish partnerships in the utilization of digital technologies in different areas of health.
UB’s Director of Legal Services, Mr Benbella Rwelengera, signed for the University while President Satoshi Murabayashi signed on behalf of MURC. The Secretariat for this MoU is MURC’s Center on Global Health Architecture, an organisation striving to solve global health issues.
The MoU outlines the two firms’ commitment towards utilization of digital health technologies towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and creating a knowledge-driven economy in Botswana.
Implementation and utilization of digital health technologies continues to grow rapidly around the world. Thus, efforts to utilize technology tools and data in health are generating more social attention in overcoming challenges in low and middle income countries. The challenges include infectious disease outbreaks, access and delivery of medicines, prevention of lifestyle diseases, and nursing care for elderly people.
Through the MoU, the two institutions aim to collaborate in establishing new partnerships and innovative projects in line with Botswana’s National eHealth Strategy (2019-2024).
Consequently, UB and MURC will use their expertise and networks to develop digital health solutions in four main areas of health and social challenges in Botswana. The four main areas are in data visualization and creation of effective measures to tackle non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including oncology, diabetes and hypertension; utilization of artificial intelligence (AI) in minimizing the harm of infectious diseases outbreak and drone delivery system to improve access to medical commodities besides utilization of digital technologies in nursing care for elderly people.
Both parties will therefore collaborate to develop a new leading knowledge-based industry to transform Botswana from a resource to a knowledge-based economy.
This is in line with the Center on Global Health Architecture at MURC’s initiatives of tackling global health issues focusing on “digital health,” or the use of digital health technologies to improve health and wellness systems. The MoU is part of such initiatives to solve various social issues.
On the other hand, UB has taken a leading role in Botswana’s eHealth by establishing an eHealth Research Unit under the Department of Computer Science in the Faculty of Science. The mandate of the unit is to foster eHealth research and capacity building initiatives.
Furthermore, the UB eHealth Research unit is engaged in the development and implementation of digital health solutions including contact-tracking systems for tuberculosis patients using SMS by mobile phones. In November 2019, UB hosted the 12th edition of the Health Informatics in Africa (HELINA) conference which attracted experts from around the world. The 2019 HELINA conference was held under the theme, “From Evidence to Practice; Implementation of Digital Health Interventions in Africa for achievement of Universal Health Coverage.”
Meanwhile, MURC is a think tank and consulting firm within Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG). It has offices in Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka, and drives a variety of projects including consultancy services for firms, policy research for national and local governments, management information services, human resource development, and economic research.