Digital Media and healthcare


Courtesy of: Digital Trends

You wake up feeling ticklish in your throat, you try to shake it off and drink lots of warm water or the honey and lemon concoction. After a day, it’s still there, instead of seeking a doctor’s appointment, you head to the internet. Today, anyone with a digital device with connection to the internet can access a variety of health information on-line ranging from a simple sour throat to the more serious like bronchitis and Asthma.
Everybody consumes and talks of e-health but not many people have come up with a clear definition of the term. In this digital era, it’s used to describe essentially everything related to computers and medicine. E-health was initially coined and used by business leaders and marketing teams rather than scholars. The private sector devised the term e-health with reference to other e-words” such as, e-business and e-commerce in an attempt to compress the viewed merger of electronic commerce to the health sector, and provide a possible identify that the internet was opening up in the health sector. For instance, to Intel e-health was a concerted effort embarked on by leaders in health care and hi-tech businesses to fully harness the benefits available through convergence of the internet and health care.” (Eysenbach, 2001)
In the early 1990s, the internet had brought new opportunities and challenges to the traditional health care information technology industry; and the coining of e-health to address these issues seemed appropriate. In the academic environment, G Eysenbach defined e-health as “an emerging field in the intersection of medical informatics, public health and business, referring to health services and information delivered or enhanced through the internet and related technologies. He added that in a broader sense the term characterizes not only technical development but also a state of mind, a way of thinking, an attitude and a commitment for networked, global thinking to improve health care locally, regionally, and world-wide by using information and communication technology.” (Eysenbach, 2001)
With the digital era, where most individuals have a digital device, health information is often said to be one of the most searched content online. (Eysenbach, 2007)These claims have been mostly based on survey data, for instance the Pew Internet & American Life Report, which found that “80% of adult Internet users have searched for at least one of sixteen major health topics online. With such an online demand for heath information, medical practitioners have had to adapt to the changing times; social media is being embraced by more medical practitioners who use it to share health information and providing patient care.
Health information in relation to online platforms has seen drastic improvements with the recent advances in digital media where we have 4G, motion gaming, digital TV and smart phones.

This information has progressed with the changing Cyberculture which is the electronic environment where various technologies and media forms converge: the Internet and email, personal homepages, online chats, personal communications technologies, mobile entertainment and information technologies, bioinformatics and biomedical technologies.

Health information on social media has improved with regards to the features of Cyberculture (Convergence, Remediation, Consumption, and Interactivity) where by health information can be accessed on various digital device, it also contains videos and not only content, it is highly sought by various individuals and has enabled patients communicate with their doctors while online.
Despite the switch by medical practitioners in embracing the changing digital era, the participatory nature of social media entails an open forum for information exchange, therefore increasing the possibility of wide dissemination of non-credible, and potentially erroneous, health information. (Chou, 2009). In accessing health information online, most individuals may not consider other Internet tools such as e-mail, chat, instant messenger, or social networking sites, which may actually help them to identify credible information on the Web (Eysenbach, 2008).

The fact is that there is a great deal of high-quality information on the Web that is published by trusted organizations. It is important for these organizations to appear credible enough to initiate a behavior change in consumers.
The world we leave in ensures that almost every individual is able to find and provide medical solace online, but, just because we can, it doesn’t mean we must. Without the knowledge on where to access legitimate e-health, it is not a good idea to consider social media as a source of healthcare since this cannot be subsituted with health personnel.

Adolescent sexual and health reproductive health in Kenya

On 28th of July 2015 we were represented at a dissemination meeting of the fact sheet on Adolescents Secxual and Reproductive Health in Kenya organized by Center for the Study of Adolence (CSA). Adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH) is a crucial component of lifelong health and well-being of individuals, which contributes to the health of future generations. Among the key areas of concern were; the ASRH policy directions for instance, how to ensure young people get information so that they can make informed decision, programming and how to make good use of celebrities in conveying positive messages since they are role models, how to contextualize certain issues in terms of reference since the approaches may vary due to geographical locations in Kenya, service provision and  HIV testing, communication strategies, youth friendly services and how to factor in financial barriers that hinder quite a good number of adolescents from accessing various services.

It was concluded that there is need to advocate for ASRH policy at the county level through the elected leaders, and have a clear access to information, meaningful involvement of adolescents. On programming, issue of coordination should be enhanced through multi-sectoral e.g. Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Agriculture. More emphasis should be placed on resource mobilization and allocation as well as the interpretation of the policy statements by both the media and the general public.

A new Dawn

We are pleased to share that Mr. Edward Miano Munene, HERAF’s former Executive Director has been appointed as the Coordinator of the Beyond Zero Campaign. We take this opportunity to congratulate him on the appointment. We also take pride on this achievement and representation as he was absorbed as one of HERAF’s board member. In regard to this development, HERAF’s board has appointed Mr. George Gathenya to take over leadership of the organization as the Executive Director with effect from 1st April 2015. Mr. Gathenya brings to HERAF a vast experience in policy advocacy, governance and health systems strengthening. Join us to welcome Mr. Gathenya to the HERAF family in our pursuit to empowering Kenyans to enjoy the right to health.

Community’s Participation in Health Sector Governance

In a bid to strengthen community’s participation in health sector governance in Narok, Isiolo, Kiambu, and Siaya Counties, we have been conducting a baseline survey to provide in depth understanding of citizen’s engagement in governance of their health sector. The communities have been very receptive and supportive to the whole process. Their level of awareness is low thus putting the need for capacity building as a major priority. It is our hope that once the survey is done, it will be used as a tool to offer capacity building to the Counties mentioned to enable them be fully equipped and confident enough to be involved in the governance of their health sectors.


In Kenya, the forum to launch the Universal Health Coverage campaign was based on the fact that despite demonstrable evidence of the need to improve access to healthcare and financial risk protection, the country lacks political will and the necessary capacities.

1The forum was attended by 31 participants comprising of  Kajiado County Executive member for Health, the County Assembly Members Committee for Health, the County Assembly Members for Budget and Finance Committee, clerks of both committees at the County Assembly, government Officials working with the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) and representatives of Civil Society Organizations working in the health sector in the county.

3The meeting managed to launch the Universal Health Coverage Campaign in Kajiado and there was commitment from the participants to continue with the initiative. There is need to maintain the momentum in the county all in an effort towards the realization of the right to health.

Participants from Kadjiado County posing for a group photo after the forum

Participants from Kajiado County posing for a group photo after the forum

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County Executive Member for Health Kadjiado County Addressing participants

County Executive Member for Health Kajiado County Addressing participants

County Assembly Member Committee for Health Kadjiado County Addressing participants

County Assembly Member Committee for Health Kajiado County Addressing participants

HERAF Board chair addressing participants in Kadjiado County

HERAF Board chair addressing participants in Kajiado County