Background of INDEHELA

The initiative started as research partnership between the University of Kuopio, Finland, and the Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria, in 1989. A doctoral student from the University of Kuopio in Finland stayed as a visiting research at the Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria. A very rudimentary hospital information system, running on a stand-alone PC, was then jointly developed.

This gave rise to regular research collaboration between the two universities. The group was then authorized to organize the first Health Informatics in Africa (HELINA) conference in 1993. Several participants felt that ICT could be used much wider to facilitate healthcare in Africa, if there were appropriate software applications purposely developed for that end.

In the following three years, a group of activists from Finland and Norway in Europe and Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Senegal and Zimbabwe in Africa tried to raise European Union funding for a large research and development initiative under the name Informatics Development for Health in Africa (INDEHELA). When this turned out too difficult, the Norwegian and South African partners embarked on a bilateral project on district-level information management while the Finnish and Nigerian partners continued on the bilateral development of the hospital information system.

In 1998 to 2015, different kinds of projects were implemented within the INDEHELA network:

Research projects funded by the Academy of Finland, Development Research:

Student and teacher exchange projects funded by the Centre for International Mobility (CIMO), North-South-South Programme:

Educational, research and administrative capacity development project funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Finland, through CIMO:

INDEHELA-Methods (Methods for Informatics Development for Health in Africa)

Research project funded by Academy of Finland, in Finland and Nigeria, 1998-2001

The objectives of  the project were:

Create understanding of the practice and problems of software industry in Nigeria. Create systems development methods adjusted to Nigerian requirements and constraints. Produce an information system for Nigerian hospitals and health centres in a “host project”. Strengthen the Nigerian partner as the most important Health Informatics Research & Development centre in Sub-Saharan Africa excluding South Africa. Establish Information Technology in Developing Countries as a discipline in Finland.

The project was based on the ten-year research collaboration in Health Informatics by the University of Kuopio (UKu; currently University of Eastern Finland, UEF, Kuopio campus) and Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) in Ile Ife, Nigeria. It produced empirical research information about software industry and systems development practice which was not available from Africa before.

INDEHELA-Context (Socio-economic impact, sustainability and affordability in information systems development in and for Africa)

Research project funded by Academy of Finland, in Finland, Mozambique, Nigeria and South Africa, 2004-2007

INDEHELA-Context was a follow-on to INDEHELA -Methods. The objectives of this phase were:

  • Chart the major contextual factors, in the IS functioning or development
  • Create a framework mapping social, technical and economical factors, complementing to the results of the previous INDEHELA phase

INDEHELA-Context results were aimed for software professionals in Africa, software education in Africa and prospective international software consultants in Finland. The partners in INDEHELA-Context were University of Kuopio (UKu; currently University of Eastern Finland, UEF, Kuopio campus), Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM), Mozambique, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Nigeria and Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), South Africa.

INDEHELA-Education (Education for Informatics Development for Health in Africa)

Student and staff exchange project funded by the CIMO North-South-South Programme, in Finland, Mozambique, Nigeria and South Africa, in 2009-2011

INDEHELA-Education was a teacher and student exchange project between the University of Eastern Finland (UEF), Savonia University of Applied Science (SUAS), Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM), Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) and Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). It was funded by the North-South-South programme of the Centre for International Mobility (CIMO), Finland, for 2009-2011.

INDEHELA-Exchange 2012-14 (Student and Staff Exchange for Informatics Development for Health in Africa)

Student and staff exchange project funded by the CIMO North-South-South Programme, in Finland, Mozambique, Nigeria and South Africa, in 2012-2014

INDEHELA-Exchange focused on developing the capacities of the partner HEIs in HI and e-health through three activity areas: 1) student exchange, 2) staff exchange, and 3) intensive course. It complements other projects within the INDEHELA initiative: capacity development in the INDEHELA-ICI project, joint research in the ISD4D project, and practical service development for communities in various development projects in the partner countries.

INDEHELA-Access (Informatics Development for Access to Health in Africa)

Student and staff exchange project funded by the CIMO North-South-South Programme, in Finland, Mozambique, Nigeria and South Africa, in 2014-2015

The INDEHELA-Access project provided teachers and students with an opportunity to be exposed to different contexts to learn about the current situation of access to health information and education with a community focus and to jointly be educated about possible opportunities to improve health literacy with the incorporation of suitable access-enabling technologies. The project disseminated the experiences and innovative ideas to pan-African audiences.