Benefit album for health IT. No, really.

Remember a few months back how I said health IT needed a rock star? I didn’t mean it literally.

Grammy-winning Senegalese musician Youssou N’Dour is spearheading a charity album to benefit and raise awareness for the IntraHealth OPEN initiative to help bring open-source health IT to health workers across Africa. Also participating are rap star Nas, singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik and a real, live rock star, R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck.

The album, “OPEN Remix,” features N’Dour’s 2007 song, “Wake Up (It’s Africa Calling),” which originally was a duet with Neneh Cherry, plus remixes of that song by Nas, Sheik, Buck and other artists. The downloads are free via Rhapsody, iLike and Amazon MP3, but you can donate to the cause through those sites.

Indaba Music, a social networking site for musicians, will have a worldwide remix contest starting in April.

According to an e-mail from IntraHealth’s publicist, “IntraHealth has been collaborating with African governments and private institutions to design and apply open source solutions to strengthen their ability to use health information for strategic health policy and planning. Using mobile phones, PDAs and taking advantage of growing connectivity across Africa, the initiative aims to increase fluency in open source systems and help support a new generation of eHealth workers, technology professionals and national leaders in Africa who understand, customize and apply open technologies to improve health.”

This sounds a lot like what the OpenMRS and Partners In Health folks are working on, and a lot like what I heard at the Making the eHealth Connection conferences in Italy last summer. Funny how there seems to be more organization around e-health in Africa than in the U.S.