National Digital Health Strategy for South Africa

Strategies and Action Plans

Author: Republic of South Africa Department of Health

The National Digital Health Strategy for South Africa, spanning from 2019 to 2024, is an initiative aimed at leveraging digital health to enhance healthcare delivery in the country. The strategy builds upon the lessons learned from the previous eHealth Strategy 2012-2016.

It focuses on key principles such as a person-centred approach, expanded access, innovation, workforce development, and a whole-of-government approach to drive health system transformation towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC). The strategy emphasises the importance of developing a complete health electronic record, digitizing health systems’ processes, scaling up mHealth interventions, and enhancing digital health workforce capabilities. It also highlights the significance of establishing integrated platforms, strengthening governance, and fostering multistakeholder engagement to ensure effective, safe sharing of health information across systems and services.

The strategy aligns with the National Development Plan (NDP) and the National Health Insurance (NHI) transformation imperatives, with a vision of achieving ‘better health for all South Africans enabled by digital health’ to promote a long and healthy life for all citizens

The National Digital Health Strategy for South Africa (2019-2024) outlines the following key objectives:

  1. Person-centred focus: The strategy aims to put the patient at the centre of healthcare services, enabling better access, improved quality of care, and enhanced patient empowerment through digital technologies.
  2. Expanded access: The strategy seeks to increase access to healthcare services, particularly for underserved and rural populations, by leveraging digital health solutions.
  3. Innovation for sustainable impact: The strategy emphasises the importance of innovation in digital health to achieve sustainable improvements in healthcare delivery and outcomes.
  4. Digital health workforce for economic development: The strategy recognises the potential of digital health to contribute to economic development by creating jobs and fostering innovation in the health sector.
  5. Whole-of-government approach: The strategy promotes a coordinated and integrated approach to digital health across government departments and stakeholders to ensure effective implementation and impact.

The strategy proposes nine strategic interventions to be achieved by 2024, including:

  1. Digital health leadership capacity: Developing digital health leadership capacity to drive the implementation of the strategy.
  2. Multistakeholder engagement: Engaging stakeholders from various sectors in the development and implementation of digital health initiatives.
  3. Funding mechanisms: Establishing funding mechanisms to support the implementation of the strategy.
  4. Governance and oversight: Strengthening governance and oversight for strategy implementation.
  5. Integrated information architecture: Establishing an integrated information architecture for interoperability and effective, safe sharing of health information across health systems and services.
  6. Complete health electronic record: Developing a complete health electronic record for all South Africans.
  7. Digitizing health systems’ business processes: Digitizing health systems’ business processes to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
  8. Scaling up mHealth: Scaling up mHealth for community-based interventions.
  9. Developing digital health workforce: Developing a digital health workforce to support the implementation of the strategy