The world and any nation needs to know about outbreaks and any emerging diseases as soon as they appear, anywhere on the globe. Public health workers need to take steps to prevent epidemics from spreading, and the public needs to know how to protect it-self in times of such circumstances. Imagine more than 20,000 computers or communication devices, with an equal number of users like scientists, health officials, journalists, laypeople in countries or towns across the globe, keeping watch for disease outbreaks round the clock. That is precisely what the world needs, to uproot global emerging disease before reporting networks can appear. In the instance of ProMED-mail ,which was established as a nonprofit project of the Federation of American Scientists in 1994. In 1999, ProMED-mail became a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases. The network now receives e-mail reports from subscribers that are analyzed by disease experts and sent out over the Internet. In this article though, we are going to discuss the necessity of developing e-health in a developing country like Zambia.
It has been established in most researches that a lot of people are busy looking out for medical information on the World Wide Web to find solution to their health needs. This has specifically been narrowed to individuals between the ages of 18 to 34. To get advantage of such a channel of information sharing, people need to be aware that peer reviewed material is more beneficial in enriching their knowledge base. Therefore, if direct audio visual contact is established between the information seeker and the person behind the publication, it would really be an interactively enlightening experience. Tele-med consultation is one of the fastest growing fields in medicine that has to be put to a large scale utilization to lessen the burden on the health service sector.
Of course, it is no secret that every careful physician would attest to the fact that after a series of reviews, a phone call or just sending a word is enough to communicate progress on a condition being monitored. Perhaps we might have done that using any of our latest digital technology mode of communication without realizing we are utilizing a new field of medicine called ‘Telemedicine.’ Whilst most country health advocators are soliciting for better health being brought to our door-step, Telemedicine opens the door as a barrier and becomes part of our life. This is evident in a number of communication devices that carry a health package system with them like Smartphones, laptops, i-pads and other digital devices. Nonetheless, their utilization is very low and people have not yet gained the confidence that these instruments can bring into our lives. The fad of ceremonial travel for better health services when you have all that money can buy, will not become fashionable in this day and era because medical technology through telemedicine has a solution to avoid these monotonous movements as x-rays, cervical cancer screening, vital signs monitoring, scans, malaria testing and many other investigations can now be done using our communicating devices like smartphones with or without assistance from an expert far away from us.
It is very difficult to substantiate how much medical fees we can abuse when a privilege we enjoy provides for that, but we can exercise great wisdom if at all we embrace e-health consultations that come mostly at no fee but payment comes only when treatment like surgery or physical presence is consented with recommendations from a family physicians. Most of the diseases that we seek solutions to can be treated by our local physicians if all life serving ideas and technology were availed to them but due to poor political will, this seem to be a far-fetched dream. Telemedicine on the other hand, avails us with a potential cyber contact with a specialist relevant to our condition using an advanced sight from a camera capturing us with help of computer processed image available at a Telemedical centre.
The procurement of Telemedical equipment may cost some fortune now but it is currently a worthwhile economical tool towards delivery of health services as closest to the people as possible. Imagine as a nation with golden jubilee emancipation, having a toll free medical helpline? That definitely would be a marvel for clients that need express reviews after an initial contact with a physician. There are many good healthcare programs, and new e-Health devices and applications in Zambia, but they are not being universally applied in some ‘hidden clinics’ and by patient s that need special care. Something which is vital nowadays is to reap the benefits of digitalization of healthcare in the 21st Century. A computer would allow the ‘hidden clinics’ to network and find out about the great programs available in Zambia and cases that cannot be handled at lower organs will easily be spotted and referred for appropriate treatment. In some clinics, they are off the ‘beaten path’, and do not know these programs even exist. Also, a computer with a good internet connection today can have Google Hangouts for Teleconsults. Fortunately, with wireless service, virtually all areas can have good internet connections.
The computer can also be used for communication with other healthcare workers, and workers in central offices in Lusaka will know of any disease outbreaks, in real time. It also allows the nurse or healthcare workers to send photos of any skin problem they cannot easily diagnose. It can alert a central office if there is a vital need for supplies of service. It can alert the transfer of a very sick patient to a more urban area. In short, it is a lifeline that can and should be used today.
Our health system is isolated geographically, but do not need to be isolated with today’s technology and internet connections. It can be done so with a precise plan to, first, find ‘hidden’ clinics, then outfit them with computers to establish communication, and allow for more efficient allocation of the scarce healthcare manpower of doctors, and specialists. The data generated and services provided, should be to patient satisfaction and can succeed if the patients and problems are plugged into the 21 century with the benefits of computers. The next step should be to apply this model of application of Google Hangouts for Telemedicine in Zambia, with an already established network of general doctors and specialist with sufficient technical expertise in the effective use of the Smartphones to diagnose infectious disease problems, and to photograph skin lesions, etc.
Therefore, Zambian physicians and other health workers can then join this community of medical experts to give informative health advice to patients. People with or without any maladies can also join to pouch for medical expertise that meet their condition. Maladies of particular interest would be those that are chronic by nature like heart problems that need potential surgery, cancer treatment, kidney transplant and many that may require potential treatment from outside our country but an expert from within Zambia may be sought for palliative treatment. There are a lot of people who travel out for special treatment when better service can even be offered from within, hence, this is a platform that will open our citizenry with confidentially secured opportunities to know what locally available medical services have to offer.
In addition, individuals that cannot pay for a special treatment may use the platform as an advocating media for well-wishers to come to their aid. This would be a site free from abuse as an administrative manager would be appointed to sensor and validate data being received. Telemedicine is poised to be the most preferred method of medical consultation for most reviews because the inadequate medical personnel of demotivated health force is growing in developing nations. Zambia being uniquely placed with good communication network, need to embrace e-health to avoid being 50 years behind in development.
Well with that said amigos, we really have appreciated your phone calls, texts, emails and other methods of communication through our contact details below, at the time when you might have being making follow up on our many health articles and other health matters but it is time we moved together to a higher level of consultation with a bigger community by embracing communication devices as tools to get the health services we deserve. Were necessary photos may now be sent to us and our personal doctors are invited to join us in our quest to offer our community the best Tele -medical consultation there can possibly be on this planet. Without input from both ends in this cause, our efforts to ensure a healthy tomorrow would be in vein.
JONES H. MUNANG’ANDU (author)
Motivational speaker, health commentator &
Email; [email protected]Skype id; jones .muna
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