Across much of Africa, healthcare provision faces a number of barriers to improving services. Health clinics are few and far between. Where they do exist, they lack specialist doctors and access to vital services such as lab tests. Attrition is high as doctors feel overburdened, isolated from their peers and see no opportunities for training and development and in many countries, the majority leave for better opportunities in cities.
One aspect of Computer Aid’s work involves sending computers as well as e-health equipment such as scanners, digital cameras and printers to rural healthcare practices to facilitate knowledge sharing sessions between healthcare professionals. For example, having scanners enables doctors to send images of patient cases to specialists in urban centres and seek advice as to how best treat them.
Another way in which ICT can help doctors is by providing a way for them to document cases and, this is important for doctors treating cleft lips since this is required by the reconstructive surgery sponsor Smile train to fund projects.
DOCS is a Christian organization that links U.S. volunteer physicians with African national physicians to exchange medical techniques for the betterment of African health care. The organisation organizes several continuing medical education (CME) trips each year and hosts CME seminars, mostly in rural locations. These seminars expose medical personnel to quality, regionally relevant instruction with a credentialed faculty.
This year, DOCs received it’s Telemedicine equipment from AMREF courtesy of Computer Aid International to help in facilitating the training camp.
A total of 20 medical practitioners were trained in this hospital, with the lectures being projected using the CAI donated laptops. Over 1000 photos were taken for the purposes of reporting, lecture preparations, database and hospital records.
A total of 44 patients were operated in a week, each of whom had their pictures taken before and after and details uploaded to an online database and sent to Smile train.
Habamungu Midard, 45 a cleft lip patient who was operated on in 2010 has worked to spread awareness of the cleft lip surgeries and brought 5 children with him to the clinic in March.
Mr Midard couldn’t hide his joy after the children he brought went through a successful surgery saying “These children will not go through the stigmatization and suffering I have gone though and will never grow old the way I have”
Such information sharing workshops are a fantastic way to build the expertise of rural and often isolated health professionals. Doctors who attended the workshop can continue to work with their local communities and implement these new techniques. With the addition of Information and Communications Technology, they will also be able to continue to share expertise and ask for advice on an continual basis.
Project Officer Amref Telemedicine
(AMREF is a distribution partner for Computer Aid International)