The majority of the world population now has access to a mobile phone and a mobile signal. While existing technologies are unable to resolve all current challenges, they have been useful in the establishment of personal connections and leveraging on new technologies more meaningfully. Technology has enhanced the quality of life for most people.
In countries, where there is limited access to healthcare and poor infrastructure, “mHealth” is key to connecting the developed and developing world. By leveraging on mobile phones, diseases are now be efficiently diagnosed and tracked, information can be disseminated more promptly, and have a greater reach. In addition, online health education is more accessible to citizens in developing countries that are conventionally underserved.
At present, for instance, Short Message Services (SMS), is now being tapped onto to educate people and furnish them with health knowledge on best practices. In Bangladesh, new and expectant mothers can opt-in to receive twice-weekly SMS reminders about checkups, medication and nutrition guidelines. Whilst in Africa, SMSes are sent in local dialects to users to inform them about vaccination programmes, malaria prevention, nutrition and basic hygiene. Mobile phone interventions through text have also be piloted in Cambodia, the Philippines and the Democratic Republic of Congo to support diabetes self-management.
Researchers from the University of Oxford, UK, recently conducted the first systematic study of mobile phone use during a disease outbreak in rural China and India. The results demonstrated that, mobile phone use is commonly correlated with better access to healthcare. However, there are also some negative consequences such as costly expendable treatments and more pronounced health marginalisation of those without mobile phones.
Digital health exercises in the developing countries are making healthcare more accessible to in remote places. Examinations and tests can be carried out and interpreted with the use of digital technology as long as there is a mobile signal. The lack of specialised laboratories is another challenge in developing countries. In addition, knowledge can have better reach by leveraging on digital technology and innovative communication methods.
It is also important to note that there has been an increase number of health innovations coming from the developing countries. For instance, Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric, highlighted that developing countries have few particular characteristics that allow them to be more creative when sourcing for cheaper alternatives to everyday challenges. General Electric’s team in China created a portable ultrasound that can be plugged into laptop which is cheaper than its traditional counterpart. It can also possible to utilised in remote rural regions. The innovation is then further improvised and a handheld ultrasound is created at a lower cost as opposed to the conventional ultrasound device. The innovation is now available in the United States.
Participate in the upcoming QS Subject Focus Summit – Medicine under the theme of “Advancing the Medical and Health Sciences: Education, Research & Collaboration” from 23-25 January 2019 in Surabaya, Indonesia.