Populations are expected to age rapidly in DAN countries during the coming few decades. However, the current evidence base indicates that lack of a political agenda, structural reforms, changing socio-economic trends, a coherent investment program and regional disparities in levels of developed physical infrastructure of broadband networks make a regional digital telemedicine platform focused on elder care much needed but also very challenging.
Target groupsChange makers, Public figures and influencers, and Public sector officials
Within a context of reliance on families for care, changing family structure, dynamic migration patterns and associated risks of ill health in later life, the needs for long-term care support are expanding. The norms, religious and cultural traditions of these countries place the duty of care on women; such care, in the vast majority of cases, is unpaid and informally provided thereby heightening the pressure on women’s wellbeing, time and energy through a combination of competing demands.
To offset the impact of the demographic shift and other changes on the traditional system, policymakers and change agents in the region must invest in the systems that can encourage and facilitate formal digital care provision.
A focused regional digital effort e.g. disease state or health platform such as "prediction and prevention, may offer the best chances for rapid prototyping and potential success given current infrastructure, cost-effectiveness and cultural acceptability challenges.
There is a particular need to foster regulated and well-organized home-based care services connected to a wider ecosystem that would facilitate caring for older people while remaining within their own families and communities. However, without a strong role of civil society in advocacy as well as provision of care within the community and programs directed towards building capacity fostered and subsidized by Governments, focused efforts and choices within the digital platform should be available
Which field and which area?
This concept is regional and is related to healthcare, telehealth, senior care, aging in place, and caregiver support (gender equality).
Effects of the problem
A rudimentary literature review indicates that informal care continues to play a central role in long-term care, and women provide most formal and informal care. The enduring and sizable role played by women in relation to informal long-term care, which is the most common form of care provision within the region (Sibai and Yamout 2012), places great demands and stress on caregivers.
Diversity and variation in socio-economic and cultural situations among the North African countries has caused variation and multiplicity of restrictions in regional telehealth platform implementation. Lack of knowledge of the benefits of such a platform for senior care, lack of funding by the government and other health care providers; privacy concerns and lack of legal framework; weakness of information infrastructure; complex systems linked to lack of qualified personnel; and lack of data standards that allow exchange of health data in local languages will ultimately stress regional economies.
A formal regional telemedicine platform can be seen as an opportunity for national health authorities in North Africa to renew the formulation of medical policies and actions in response to the need of improving health services for an aging population.
Long term care provision is essential. An approach using advanced technology and based on social capital would be most suitable. A regional digital telehealth platform could both empower and support informal care givers, particularly women.