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Mobile health technology: Touching lives across the globe
Non-profi t Health eVillages is saving lives by introducing mHealth technology in developing countries and rural areas in America.
y ng By Matt Linder
Pictured clockwise from top: In Kenya, Katherine looks on as nurse practicioner Okari holds her newborn baby; Okari instructs students on an iPad; clinicians use smartphones, laptops and tablets.
In many areas of the world, including parts of the United States, patient access to quality healthcare is being negatively impacted by a lack of provider access to timely medical infor- mation. In fact, more than a billion people currently live in rural, underserved areas with inadequate access to healthcare, and nearly one-third of countries are experiencing critical shortages of skilled healthcare workers. Often times, nurse practitioners are the only staff – with no access to physicians or the decision-support tools needed to properly diagnose and treat diseases or complications specifi c to their region. Building on the belief that everyone, in every corner of the globe, should have access to high-quality healthcare, we launched Health eVillages in partnership with the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, a program that arms clinical providers with mobile access to the highest- quality medical references.
Mobile health technology: Every corner of the globe The program, which has launched pilot sites in Haiti, China, Uganda, Kenya and rural Louisiana, has impacted patient care in the developing world by providing mobile phones and handheld devices to healthcare professionals. Due to the lack of infrastructure and Internet available in these remote and at-risk regions, the program also supplies
6 June 2012
hat can a 1970s medical textbook tell a physician or nurse practitioner as they’re caring for patients with critical medical complications? Not enough.
k tell a solar panels to ensure the devices receive the
solar panels to ensure the devices receive the power they need to work properly. In Kenya – the site of one of our pilot locations – “the rate
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of under-5 mortality has stagnated between 93 in 1998 and the current 92 per 1,000 live births,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO). “Maternal mortality worsened from 365 in 1994 to 414 in 2003, and maternal death is the leading cause of death in women of child-bearing age. This stagnation is attributable to the high disease burden due to existing and new conditions, and an inadequate response to manage the disease burden. The health impact indicators also suggest wide disparities in healthcare across the coun- try, closely linked to underlying socio-economic, gender and geographical disparities.” WHO also found that the health system is hampered by “inadequate quantities and qualities of resources.”
Bringing telehealth to communities where access to healthcare information and medical references is desperately needed has already proven its value. While conducting train- ing sessions and delivering mobile devices in Lwala, a rural village in Kenya, we bore witness to the power of the mobile healthcare movement: A nurse practitioner saved two lives during a child delivery with life-threatening complications for the mother and baby.
Okari and Katherine
On day eight of our training and delivery tour in Africa, we stopped at the Lwala Community Alliance and Clinic,
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