donderdag 6 augustus 2009

How even a little ICT can improve health care

First stop: Langbinsi

On Thursday 31st July I was the guest of Norbert from ACDEP, a faith based ACDEP Longbinsidevelopment organisation in Northern Ghana. IICD supports, together with Cordaid, a project within ACDEP to set up 6 information centres at 3 livelihood members, two health members and at their headquarters in Tamale. I visited today the two health centres in Langbinsi and Nalerigu. The road was bad after the turnoff at Walewale. It had rained a lot in the morning, so the roads were muddy.In Langbinsi I was welcomed by David, a nurse and the local ICT champion. He was responsible for the small ICT centre at the clinic. At the clinic were too many patients for the old building and un undermanned staff. The catchment area is 28,000 people from communities as far as 40 kilometres away. The clinic is training community workers for the 15 different villages, but so far this has happened for only three villages. The archive is still
paperwork. ACDEP Longbinsi archiveAn according to David this was not even a busy day, I should have been here at a market day! The clinic was set up in 1974, but the current buildings were from the early nineties. They have small examination rooms and a lab, but no space to admit people. They have to stay with family or friends in Langbinsi. The closest hospital is an hour away, by ambulance.


The ICT centre is used in different ways. David, the nurse, has ACDEP Longbinsi 2diagnosed several skin and STD’s using a small digital camera and google health. He documents everything in dossiers, that he discusses with the doctor. The clinic tried to set up a link with other hospitals in the neighbourhood for the diagnosis via e-mail, but most are understaffed and are not willing to take on extra responsibilities without a big fee. So David has used the internet as best as possible. It is also used to store updated medical information for the staff. 10 of the 25 staff members are trained so far and are able to make reports, browse the net or sent emails. Community workersThe community workers are also trained in basic ICT and also with the help of the computer in basic community health working. One of the community health workers is also a pastor. He uses the computer at the centre now also to contact to churches in the US, who have now donated for the improvement of his church in the community. David has been very innovative using the internet in providing extra health care, but he is full of plans what he further wants to improve.

After the stop at Lanbinsi the weather cleared and we continued further east to Nalerigu. At the public health clinic of the mission hospital we were welcomed by Dr. Flores Baba. Acdep NolerigaShe said that there was a programme in Nagboo, one of the communities not too far from Nalerigu. When we arrived at the square next to the small health clinic was full of youths. This was the community Youth programme. These youth were trained at the clinic in ICT, but were now performing a play for the community using different forms of ICT: mobile phones, computers were mentioned, downloaded material about HIV/AIDS laminated. Although I did not understand the
local language it was interesting to watch the crowd how they reacted to this Acdep Nolerigainfotainment. Because it was clear that a lot of information was distributed through this drama. Afterwards we discussed at the public health clinic the way forward. At the moment the internet was not working, because the modem was defect and it takes long before it is repaired. They had lot’s of plans to promote the use of ICT to many more youth and to the hospital staff. They were hoping for modules of continuous training for health workers, so that they were able to do that here without travelling too far.