Updated May 29, 2019

Digital African Health Library

DAHLS is a membership service that brings clinical decision support to mobile devices off-line with 50+ evidence-based and country specific resources in a single search to answer clinical care questions that patients prompt at the point of care


Bruce Dahlman

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Stage 5: Scaling

Initial rollout in 2014 with twelve static resources proved concept of updatable, evidence-based and local resources could be distributed across Africa. 2019 rollout of Version 2 has 50+ resources to choose from with local MoH guidelines and journals

Registered In Canada.

Focus Areas:

Education, Health and Technology

Education, Health and TechnologySEE LESS

Implemented In:

Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and 4 MoreSEE ALL

Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Botswana and SomaliaSEE LESS

Countries Implemented In
Funds Raised to Date
Verified Funding


Primary care health workers in sub-Saharan Africa largely practice in an information-poor and resource-constrained environment and do not usually have access to medical libraries. Despite frequent calls to ‘connect Africa’, the cost and bandwidth issues of computer and web-based solutions make access to relevant decision support information a distant promise in most rural African health facilities.



The Digital African Health Library is designed to bridge these gaps. As an integrated, smartphone-based, point-of-care decision support resource, it provides evidence-based, locally relevant decision support and health information which has been shown to lead to more informed patient care.. Integrated search capabilities over several categories of evidence-based resources can lead to a more accurate diagnosis and more focused management plan.

Target Beneficiaries

Primary care diagnosticians of sub-Saharan African countries - clinical officers, nurses, midwives, medical officers, GPs, family physicians, specialist physicians

Mission and Vision

The Digital African Health Library Service seeks to assist the primary care health workers with point of care decision support tools to provide the best care possible for their patients. Motto: Informed Decisions for Better Care - Anywhere

Innovation Description

A smartphone-accessible resource providing evidence-based, locally-relevant decision support and health information. The University of Calgary-led project is creating an app to support bedside care by medical doctors in Africa: a smartphone-accessible resource providing evidence-based, locally-relevant decision support and health information.

Competitive Advantage

The Digital Library combines the best available evidence from Western sources such as Oxford Handbooks and the exhaustive database DynaMed with the flexibility to add each country's local Ministry of Health Standard Treatment Guidelines, local journals newsletters. All resources are updatable when connected to the internet, but all resources can be brought to the device and used off-line thereby reducing costs for realtime data transfer and eliminating issues of spotty coverage within interior rooms of concrete buildings. With the generous support of our resource partners we are able to offer this collection worth hundreds of dollars for just $10 per year.

Planned Goals and Milestones

With added capability to incorporate PDF materials alongside the fully searchable XML material, we are in a position to partner with Ministries of Health, NGOs or other information repositories to offer their resources to the broad group of users. With nearly ubiquitous distribution of smartphones to users, a Ministry, university or hospital can create a local newsletter to keep their members informed.
Funding Goal80,000
Projected Cumulative Lives Impacted300
New Implemented CountriesCameroon, Burundi, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania
New FeatureDirect links from DynaMed database to HINARI full text journal articles; improved audit capabilities; improved search capabilities

The Team Behind the Innovation

Director: Bruce Dahlman, MD MSHPE FAAFP is a family physician with over 25 years experience in East Africa developing educational programs and support to primary care clinicians through the Institute of Family Medicine. COO: Musya James Mutua BComm heads the sales, marketing and operations based at the Institute of Family Medicine, Nairobi IT Manager: Joseph Mbugua BSc CompScience maintains internal database, new resource preparation and deployment


Oct 2013
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New Country Implemented In
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South Sudan
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Supporting Materials