A bibliometric analysis of medical informatics and telemedicine in sub-Saharan Africa and BRICS nations


The advances in eHealth have dramatically changed the face of healthcare delivery around the world, with Sub-Saharan Africa being no exception. It is essential to identify the prominent, emerging researchers, successful areas of research within the field of health informatics (HI) and telemedicine (TM) to be duplicated where there is a need. This study gives a bibliometric overview of original research articles on medical informatics and telemedicine indexed in Scopus, PubMed, and Science Direct over the last 20 years in sub-Saharan Africa. Keywords related to health informatics and telemedicine were used to retrieve relevant literature. We specifically analyzed the evolution, standard metrics, domains of medical informatics (MI) and TM in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRIC) nations. Our results identified mhealth as the main field of research in telemedicine that has seen significant growth in both BRIC and SSA nations and is poised to be the focus of research activity in the near future. Research production in mhealth and telemedicine showed a considerable increase from 1999–2018. The production was dominated by articles from South Africa in Africa and China from the BRIC nations. Most prolific authors have resources and are leaders of health informatics projects. The production came from 26 sub-Saharan African countries, denoting this field's devotion in different areas around sub-Sahara. Research in mhealth needs to be encouraged, mostly in the fight against infectious and non-infectious diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, where technology can improve health services and decrease disease burden.



PlumX Metrics


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Roy Tapera, Department of Environmental Health, School of Public Health, University of Botswana, Gaborone

Roy Tapera is a senior faculty member of the School of Public Health at the University of Botswana. He is a public health specialist with strength in Epidemiology, Health informatics, and Health Promotion. He has more than 12 years of experience in the field of public health. He has co-authored papers on substance use, non-communicable diseases, road traffic accidents, HIV/AIDS, and health promotion.  His teaching experience includes Epidemiology, Communicable Diseases, and Health Informatics to undergraduates and graduate students. His current research concerns Epidemiological studies and Health promotion. He possesses excellent skills in Data analysis using SPSS, R, and STATA. He co-authored several articles on public health issues. He is on the board for the Ant-Tobacco network (ATN). ATN is a Non Governmental organization with a vision to have a tobacco-free Botswana. Tapera is also an active member of The International Consortium of Universities for Drug Demand Reduction (ICUDDR).


Kulikowski CA, Shortliffe EH, Currie LM, et al. AMIA Board white paper: Definition of biomedical informatics and specification of core competencies for graduate education in the discipline. J Am Med Informatics Assoc 2012;19:931–8. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1136/amiajnl-2012-001053

Strehle EM, Shabde N. One hundred years of telemedicine: does this new technology have a place in paediatrics? Arch Dis Child 2006;91:956–9. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1136/adc.2006.099622

Liang HN. Overview of the health informatics research field: A bibliometric approach. IFIP Adv Inf Commun Technol 2010;335:37–48. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-15515-4_5

Mars M, Scott RE. WhatsApp in clinical practice: A literature review. Stud Health Technol Inform 2016;231:82–90.

Scott R, Mars M. Telehealth in the developing world: current status and future prospects. Smart Homecare Technol TeleHealth 2015;25. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2147/SHTT.S75184

Askari A, Khodaie M, Bahaadinbeigy K. The 60 most highly cited articles published in the Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare and Telemedicine Journal and E-health. J Telemed Telecare 2014;20:35–43. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1357633X13519899

Reuters T. Whitepaper Using Bibliometrics: Thomson Reuters. 2008.

Protti D. The synergism of health medical informatics revisited. Methods Inf Med 1995;34:441–5. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0038-1634628

Deloitte [Internet]. Queensland Health - eHealth Strategy. 2006. Available from: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0030/440958/ehealth-strategy.pdf

Vladzymyrskyy A, Jordanova M, Lievens F. A century of telemedicine. Basel: ISfTeH - International Society for Telemedicine & eHealth; 2017.

De Moya-Anegón F, Chinchilla-Rodríguez Z, Vargas-Quesada B, et al. Coverage analysis of Scopus: A journal metric approach. Scientometrics 2007;73:53–78. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-007-1681-4

Burnham JF. Scopus database: A review. Biomed Digit Libr. 2006;3:1–8. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/1742-5581-3-1

Sweileh WM, Al-Jabi SW, AbuTaha AS, et al. Bibliometric analysis of worldwide scientific literature in mobile - health: 2006-2016. BMC Med Inform Decis Mak 2017;17:1–12. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12911-017-0476-7

Falagas ME, Pitsouni EI, Matietzis GA, Pappas G. Comparison of PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and Google Scholar: strengths and weaknesses. FASEB J 2008;22:338–42. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1096/fj.07-9492LSF

de Tolly K, Alexander H, Town C. Innovative use of cellphone technology for HIV/AIDS behaviour change communication: 3 pilot projects project SMS ARV reminders. Cellphones 4HIV; 2009. Available from: https://www.w3.org/2008/10/MW4D_WS/papers/kdetolly.pdf

Akter S, Ray P. mHealth an ultimate platform to serve the unserved. Yearb Med Inform 2010;94–100. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0038-1638697

Odigie VI, Yusufu LMD, Dawotola DA, et al. The mobile phone as a tool in improving cancer care in Nigeria. Psychooncology 2012;21:332–5. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/pon.1894

Mahmud N, Rodriguez J, Nesbit J. A text message-based intervention to bridge the healthcare communication gap in the rural developing world - IOS Press. Technol Heal Care 2010;18:137–44. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3233/THC-2010-0576

da Costa TM, Salomão PL, Martha AS, et al. The impact of short message service text messages sent as appointment reminders to patients’ cell phones at outpatient clinics in São Paulo, Brazil. Int J Med Inform 2010;79:65-70. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2009.09.001

Combi C, Pozzani G, Pozzi G. Telemedicine for developing countries. A survey and some design issues. Appl Clin Inform 2016;7:1025–50. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4338/ACI-2016-06-R-0089

Parker RM, Dmitrieva E, Frolov S, Gazmararian JA. Text4baby in the United States and Russia: An opportunity for understanding how mHealth affects maternal and child health. J Health Commun 2012;17:S30–6. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10810730.2011.649162

Mars M. Telemedicine in KwaZulu-Natal: From failure to cautious optimism. J Telemed Telecare 2007;13:S57–9. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1258/135763307783247310

Nchise A, Boateng R, Mbarika V, et al. The challenge of taking baby steps-Preliminary insights into telemedicine adoption in Rwanda. Health Pol Technol 2012;1:207–13. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hlpt.2012.10.004

Hsu J, Liu D, Yu YM, et al. The top Chinese mobile health apps: A systematic investigation. J Med Internet Res 2016;18:e222. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.5955

Ha YP, Tesfalul MA, Littman-Quinn R, et al. Evaluation of a mobile health approach to tuberculosis contact tracing in Botswana. J Health Commun 2016;21:1115–21. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10810730.2016.1222035

Armstrong K, Liu F, Seymour A, et al. Evaluation of txt2MEDLINE and development of short messaging service-optimized, clinical practice guidelines in Botswana. Telemed e-Health 2012;18:14–7. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1089/tmj.2011.0014

Feinberg L, Menon J, Smith R, et al. Potential for mobile health (mHealth) prevention of cardiovascular diseases in Kerala: A population-based survey. Indian Heart J 2017;69:182–99. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ihj.2016.11.004

Morjaria P, Bastawrous A, Murthy GVS, et al.Effectiveness of a novel mobile health education intervention (Peek) on spectacle wear among children in India: Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials 2017;18:1–10. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13063-017-2071-8

Tesfalul M, Littman-Quinn R, Antwi C, et al. Evaluating the potential impact of a mobile telemedicine system on coordination of specialty care for patients with complicated oral lesions in Botswana. J Am Med Informatics Assoc 2016;23:e142–5. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/jamia/ocv140

Wang TT, Li JM, Zhu CR, et al. Assessment of utilization and cost-effectiveness of telemedicine program in western regions of China: A 12-year study of 249 hospitals across 112 cities. Telemed e-Health 2016;22:909–20. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1089/tmj.2015.0213

Alkmim M, Figueira R, Marcolino M, et al. Improving patient access to specialized health care: The Telehealth network of minas Gerais, Brazil. Bull World Health Organ 2012;90:373–8. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2471/BLT.11.099408

Mattos S da S, Hazin SMV, Regis CT, et al. A telemedicine network for remote paediatric cardiology services in north-east Brazil. Bull World Health Organ 2015;93:881–7. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2471/BLT.14.148874

University of Texas [Internet]. William Tierney Directory. 2020. Accessed: 2020 Jul 16. Available from: https://dellmed.utexas.edu/directory/william-tierney

Huilong D [Internet]. Zhejiang University Personal homepage. Personal Homepage. 2019. Accessed: 2020 Jul 16. Available from: https://person.zju.edu.cn/en/0091070

Howell JD, Krupinski EA, Harms KM. The empirical foundations of telemedicine interventions in primary care. Telemed J e-Health 2016;22:342–75. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1089/tmj.2016.0045

<a href='https://it.freepik.com/vettori/banner'>Banner vettore creata da upklyak - it.freepik.com</a>
Ethics Approval
This study did not include human subjects but only on electronic data on the public domain. Therefore, the protocol was granted exemption from the ethics review by the School of Nursing and Public Health (Protocol reference number:00004750).
Bibliometric Analysis, sub-Saharan Africa, Medical informatics, Telemedicine
  • Abstract views: 423

  • PDF: 135
  • HTML: 0
How to Cite
Tapera, R., & Singh, Y. (2021). A bibliometric analysis of medical informatics and telemedicine in sub-Saharan Africa and BRICS nations. Journal of Public Health Research, 10(3). https://doi.org/10.4081/jphr.2021.1903