Full of energy after workshop
Published: 2010.07.27 by Jan Fredrik Frantzen
After five days at "Sustain and Scale", a WHO workshop in Tromsø on telemedicine and eHealth, the participants were full of determination and enthusiasm. One of them was Fassil from Ethiopia, who went home to devote an intensive effort to mobile eHealth services.
Fassil is a doctor, and for the past eight years he has worked with telemedicine in his home country. Among other activities, he has been involved in implementing projects in radiology, dermatology, paediatrics and eLearning with simple "store-and-forward" technology such as digital images sent by email to specialists to provide a basis for guidance.
Aims to focus on mobile services
But he does not want to stop there. In meeting telemedicine professionals from other parts of the world, he has been inspired by suggestions, ideas, and expertise to launch new initiatives in his homeland.
"We are in the process of building up a very large infrastructure for communication in Ethiopia. For example, our authorities have made a strong commitment to fibre optics for Internet connections," he says.
Now, he plans to return home and establish eLearning and clinical support for doctors and health professionals who work with HIV and AIDS patients.
"We have few doctors and wide geographical variations. With mobile solutions and the Internet, it will be easier to stay up to date professionally and to provide guidance to nursing staff in rural areas. We hope that this will help us."
Ethiopian health professionals have become enthusiasts
Just as in Norway, they have experienced difficult times, they have made mistakes, and they have achieved successes. And just as we do, they often experience resistance to new ways of working in the public health service. But this has changed since they started trying out the telemedicine solutions.
"65% of the doctors and an even higher proportion of the nurses are now enthusiastic about using telemedicine, according to a survey that we conducted recently," he says.
In addition, using simple technology has proved very important, as well as combining several technologies such as videoconferencing and email.
"Local adaptation is also very important. We had a software provider who created an email system that needed a lot of bandwidth. Instead, we decided to program our own system, which compresses images and sends the emails much faster because it does not need such fast connections."
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A lot to learn from the participants
Since 2002, Tove Sørensen has been the NST's coordinator for its activities as a WHO Centre. She is highly satisfied with the week that has passed, and is impressed by the breadth of everything that is happening in this field internationally.
"There are many countries that have come a long way now, and it is very exciting to see presentations and discuss the projects and services in the various countries.
"And although it is the NST that organizes the workshop and offers our competence to the participants, it's amazing how much we learn from the participants about what is happening outside Norway. There is no question that this is a two-way and highly informative process," she says in conclusion.
Contact person at the NST
Tove Sørensen, telephone (+47) 911 95 696 and email Tove.Sorensen@telemed.no
NST as a WHO Centre
The NST has been a Collaborating Centre for the World Health Organization in telemedicine and eHealth since 2002. As a Collaborating Centre, the NST provides advice and guidance to WHO's member states about conducting new projects and about the implementation of telemedicine and eHealth.