Weekly health news
This week we saw an upswing in the use of new technology as well as a return to the basics
It's been raining all week here at the Washington, D.C. hub of CHMI. We hope you've had better weather, but here's the latest downpour of health news:
First, this week mPedigree, a program that uses mobile phones to protect people from counterfeit drugs, was highlighted in a news report on the risks of fake medicines around the world. The video, created by France 24 news channel, covers the risks posed by the fake drugs and how people around the world are combating the problem. Hopefully this report will put a spotlight on this growing issue.
News reports are an excellent way to teach people about the most current problems facing the world today, but what about another, more interactive learning platform? NICE TRANSITION! In late August, the first ever Serious Play Conference was held to discover the best games for learning in all fields. Coming in second place was the game Emergency Birth!, a game which teaches non-medical professionals how to assist a birth outside of a hospital. The game is being developed for an online nursing program and is meant for potential use in communities where there are not enough doctors to assist women to give birth.
In addition to video games for learning, technology continues to expand the health field in other ways. Yesterday, the first remote surgery was performed in Kenya with assistance from Aga Khan University Hospital in India. The Nairobi-based surgeons used Video Conference Surgery (VCS) technology to connect with the Indian doctors. The hope is that this new system will cut down on the costs associated with leaving the country in order to seek treatment abroad. While the program does rely heavily on a strong broadband, it is very promising in its ability to improve the quality of care without incurring travel costs.
Although not as technologically savvy as remote video surgery, preventing anemia in children through nutrient powders is just as important. A new report has shown that adding a tasteless vitamin and mineral packed powder to children’s food can prevent anemia and other deficiency problems. While further research still needs to be completed, the results so far show that the powder is apparently effective, culturally appropriate and cost effective in many different developing areas.
The Guardian also reported on appropriate medical devices in poor countries in an interesting report on the hazards of donors ignoring an area’s needs when it comes to health care development. Despite excellent intentions, technology can easily go to waste when a nation isn’t ready for its use, or where there are not technicians to properly maintain the new equipment. It is important to consider tapping into local resources that are lower on the tech ladder, particularly in an area where using a donkey as an ambulance may make perfect sense.
Finally this week, the Hub alerted us to the International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies, which is accepting abstracts for demonstrations. The conference will examine the role of computers and communications in social, economic and political development. For more information, visit the Hub website here.