Using ICT to serve TB better

It’s not every day the world celebrates big innovation or creative interventions. Such is so; because by their nature, innovations can be as time consuming to conceive and often expensive to implement.

Yet, most times inventions have come into being; revolutions have become game-changers turning misfortunes into fortunes and giving hope where there was none or even little.

Thus; by way of countering such challenges as mobility in hard to reach geographical spaces the fight for TB has gone ICT and taken to the electronic platform where health workers are engaging TB patients or suspected cases at the touch of the button – in what’s being dubbed, E-Health System.

Patients, MIJ Online has talked to; have spoken of how friendly and convenient and the E-Health System has become in easing case detection, reports-acquisition and drug management as people can now get results through the phone.

“But that isn’t all; because like in my case, time and again I get reminders on my phone reminding me on dates, when I can go collect medicine,” said Charles Bonongwe a TB patient in Balaka.

Health system facing changes in ICT.

As opposed to mobile-vans which would sometimes fail to reach some places for poor road networking, with the E-Health System, chances of health services reaching out to patients are guaranteed, something also to smile about for medics, authorities and stakeholders.

A TB nursing officer at Nsanje District Health Office – Wellington Kamulekeni says implementation of this policy has contributed positively in bringing down the number of defaults some of whom were only lacking motivation to walk to hospitals to collect medicine.

“Introduction of this electronic platform is doing wonders because patients including those living in hard to reach places like flood prone areas are being reached by sending them alerts on their handsets, and we hope moving forward there won’t be excuses for failure to come and collect drugs,” said Kamulekeni.

This chain of ITC platforms connecting; communities, volunteers and health workers, however, is not only restricted to alerts on drug collection rather also a platform for sharing TB tests results according to Dr. Tananga Nyirenda, an environmental and social safeguard specialist.

For Dr. Nyirenda, a specialist with the Southern Africa TB and health services project; the E-Health System is revolution that come to transform the landscape in the handling of TB.

“This is because this platform is working to bring together the relationship between health workers and patients. For example for one gives sputum to the volunteers they don’t have to waste time to go to the hospital to search results because once sputum has been tested in the laboratories they receive an SMS alerting them to go to the hospital to collect their results,” explains Dr. Nyirenda.

According to Dr. Nyirenda, this also applies even with reminders for getting medication.

“When patients are to get medication, they also get reminders. This is helping in many ways; it serve times and patients can concentrate on other socioeconomic activities besides it also serves them transport costs of going to the hospitals for inquires or reminders so it is a good platform,” he says.

On the other hand, on the part of medical practitioners, the medic says the E-Health System equally provides an opportunity for health workers to monitor trends and make informed decisions in service the people.

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