Fundación EHAS: Telecoms networks for rural health posts

August 03, 2012

Imagine you are a health technician at a Health Post: the next town is hours away, there is no doctor working here who could help you with diagnosis and treatment decisions – and above all there is no electricity and no access to wired or cellular phones. Without skilled and well educated doctors around you, it is difficult to assess whether the case is critical or not and by the time that your data arrives in the next health centre your patient’s state of health might have become a lot worse. What could really ease your job in this environment?

Fundación EHAS has an answer to this question: the installation of wireless communications networks that support IP telephony and internet access. The aim of the foundation is to bridge communication gaps between health technicians in rural health posts and doctors in the nearest health centres by providing effective communication systems and telemedicine services. Based on technological innovations that founder Andrés Martínez Fernández developed in cooperation with universities in Spain, Peru and Columbia, the foundation offers medical devices that allow remote diagnostics.

 

How does it work? Real-time wireless tele-stethoscopes and EKG via web allow doctors to diagnose respiratory and cardiac diseases from afar, storage and forwarding of microscope images make the diagnosis of diarrheal diseases and malaria possible. Even the health status of pregnant women can be monitored by using tele-echography – a vital tool in rural areas where maternal and child health suffer from high mortality rates because of insufficient control and monitoring.

The statistic numbers show to what degree staff in Health Posts benefit from effective communication systems: once he wireless network was installed and telemedicine services implemented, the number of queries about diagnostic or therapeutic doubts increased by 700 per cent and the number of trips for the delivery of epidemiological reports was  reduced by 75 per cent. Moreover, there was a significant reduction in maternal and infant morbi-mortality rates in the area.

Giving health technicians an opportunity to communicate with their reference doctors, Fundación EHAS shows what great impact technology can have. The foundation empowers people in rural areas to improve their public health system and their life quality.

 

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Caroline Weimann
Caroline Weimann

Caroline Weimann is member of the “empowering people. Award” team at the Siemens Stiftung (foundation). She studied International Law, Economics and Diplomacy at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London as well as Languages and Literature at the University of Oxford. Before joining the Siemens Stiftung, she worked on health and development issues at the European Commission and at a consultancy firm for non-profit organizations.

 

Function:
Basic Needs & Social Entrepreneurship

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