Empowering Remote Health Centre with Decision Support

Abstract. The increase demand for high quality medical services coupled with the scarcity of medical expert lead to the employing of electronic devices, information technology and its infrastructure in delivering health service. In line with that, this work address the  problems of insufficient expert especially in the remote regions of developing country by developing a telemedicine system that uses an online case based  system build on a network of high standard hospital to  provide assistance to remote health centre in diagnosis and treatment. Fast and low cost telecommunication service medium, SMS is used to ensure the transmission of case based system service to the remote end health centre. The results obtained from the primary evaluation of the system show the efficiency of the system in assisting non expert in decision making and could therefore improve the quality of service in the remote health centre at a very minimal cost

Keywords: Case Based system, Developing countries, diagnosis, SMS technology, Telemedicine


Donfack, K.A.F. and Gueguim, K.E.B. (2010) Empowering Remote Health Centre with Decision Support through Telemedicine Assisted with Case Based System, Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on ICT for Africa, March 25-27, Yaounde, Cameroon. Baton Rouge, LA: International Center for IT and Development.


Introduction

Despite the efforts of governments and World Health Organization (WHO) to provide adequate health care to all human irrespective to their location or their financial power, the quality of health and distribution of health services remains very poor especially in the developing countries. The main reasons are the scarcity of expert coupled with unequal geographical repartition of health workers. To this is added the cost sometime high of obtaining the service of expert relatively compared to the income of the populace.

World Health Organization (WHO) in his 2006 annual report(world health report, 2006) reported that, the global population is growing, but the number of health workers is stagnating or even falling in many of the places where they are needed most.  They further added that, an additional four million health workers are needed throughout the world. Because of the deficit in health workers, at least 1.3 billion people around the world have no access to basic health care.

In the WHO report, it was highlighted the “enormous” inequalities in the distribution of the world’s 60 million health workers across different regions. In Africa, there are about 2.3 health workers per 1,000 inhabitants, as compared to 24 per 1,000 in the Americas. The geographical repartition of diseases show that the burden is in the region with the lowest ratio of health workers per inhabitant. Africa and South-East Asia, which have the highest global burdens of disease, 25 and 27 percent respectively and have the fewest health workers per capita, while the Americas, the region with the lowest burden of disease, has the highest number of health workers(world health report, 2006). Even in the region with the fewest health workers per capita, there is still an unequal repartition of health workers between the urban and the rural area with most professional health workers concentrated in the urban area (Donfack kana, Obiniyi & Lawal, 2009).

In order to address these issues, e-health system which aim at providing health service through information system medium has recently received attention of the world as a solution to the problem. This range from Tele-health system, which is the delivery of health-related services and information via telecommunications technologies to specialized expert system developed to perform the duty of expert in a specific health area.

In this work we attempt to provide a step toward the solution by developing an online system that supplies real time reusable knowledge of expert to remote end health centre to assist them in diagnosis and treatment of their patients.

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