IICD’s main aims in the Healthcare sector are to improve healthcare delivery and public awareness of important health issues. Access to medical information and trained specialists can reduce suffering and save lives. Through the internet, sharing such information and linking up specialist resources is easier than ever, which is why internet connectivity can make such a difference in patient care. The IICD Health sector projects help patients and healthcare professionals address basic healthcare problems in rural areas beyond the reach of urban-based specialised staff. These projects provide services such as distance training for health workers, telemedicine for the ill and the injured, and digital record-keeping for hospital administrators, all of which can significantly improve treatment and prognosis for the patient. What’s more, ICT projects using digital media and mobile telephones can also support community-based public health campaigns, spreading important health messages across large and often remote areas.
Telemedicine saved Bagna’s life. The 10-year-old was admitted to hospital in rural Mali with a strange lump in his throat that made it impossible to swallow. Local doctors could not diagnose him. His family thought he would die. His x-rays were sent by Internet to a radiologist 600 km away in the capital Bamako. There experts diagnosed Bagna’s condition and instructed his doctor how to treat him.
Poor health and poverty go hand in hand. IICD increases access to better-quality medical services and health information through ICT. With better health, people are able to participate more fully in the local economy and improve their lives. We currently support 22 health projects in six countries. These projects reach nearly 5,000 medical and community workers directly, and more than 620,000 beneficiaries
How do we use ICT in Healthcare?
Telemedicine provides specialist diagnoses by linking local health workers with experts located hundreds of kilometres away. In Mali, for example there are only a dozen radiologists in a country of 15 million people. All of them live and work in the capital Bamako. An IICD programme uses the internet to connect these experts to rural hospitals around the country. The European Space Agency helped IICD pilot the use of satellites to improve internet connections for the most remote hospitals. This programme is one of the first of its kind in Africa.
Improving health services is also about better administration. In Zambia, where high levels of HIV/AIDS infection make blood safety a priority, IICD is helping to implement a blood donor database management system. This new system will create a reliable pool of healthy donors while tracking blood donations “from vein to vein.” This initiative will not only improve record-keeping, it will also give health workers new ICT skills to help them work faster and more efficiently.
In Uganda, the Health Child project has trained voluntary health workers to use computers to access videos and other information on malaria, diarrhoea and general child health. These health workers spread their new-found knowledge to around 1,000 mothers via community gatherings and support groups.