More from AHILA14: Information literacy, ICT and the problems in rural areas

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AHILA14 delegates. Courtesy of Jean Shaw, Phi.

Report from Jean Shaw of Partnerships in Health Information, attending the 14th biennial AHILA congress.  Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. AHILA14 Days 2-4.

The papers at the past three days at the AHILA Congress have covered a wide spectrum of subjects reflecting the Congress themes: ICTs and access to information and knowledge. Information seeking behaviours, access to and resources for health information have been extensively reported in papers covering disparate groups ranging from academic researchers and students to mothers and students, teenage pregnant girls and older people (60 onwards).

Health information in rural areas..the role of community health workers

The problems of providing health information in rural areas, where some religious and cultural values can be a barrier to western medicine were the subject of a number of studies and lengthy discussion. They were enhanced by a session organised by Dr. Neil Pakenham-Walsh of HIFA, who had invited community health workers and their Project Manager, Dr. Edoardo Occa, to describe the work of CUAMMDoctors with Africa (an Italian organization involved in the training of Community Health Workers at the grassroots level in seven African countries). 

 

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Dr.Occa with Tanzania community health workers & trainers, CUAMM. The NGO works in Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda.

 

IT was an eye-opener to learn of the tremendous workload and the problems they met.

Neither of the two health workers who spoke had ever been to Dar es Salaam and their presentations were given in almost instant translation by Mr. G. Faresi a community health worker trainer with the project. To round it off we were shown all the books and equipment that has to be carried by visiting health workers as they cycle great distances. It is obviously very heavy.

This was followed up by an excellent and complementary description of training Community Health Extension Workers in Kenya – an initiative carefully planned and carried out by the Kenya Chapter of AHILA (Ken-AHILA).

This blog also appears on Global Health Knowledge Base

 Editors comment

  •  the 3rd day of AHILA 14 was devoted to the  2nd HIFA conference.
    The session on community health workers & CUAMM, formed part of the HIFA conference.
  • CABI's Global Health database has 1030 records on community health workers (FREETEXT search).  Even more records can be achieved using this searchstring:  "community health" and "medical auxillaries".

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ICTs and access to health Information and knowledge: role of african health librarians

Ahila_14_cropReport from Jean Shaw of Partnerships in Health Information, attending the 14th biennial AHILA congress.   This year, for the first time, there is to be a CABI prize for a short report on health information activities in an AHILA member country (known as a chapter). The prize is £500 and is awarded by AHILA/Phi. There will be daily conference reports/blogs.

AHILA14, Day 1.

Professor Maria Musoke's keynote presentation encompassed the main themes of the Congress and AHILA's role in accommodating the huge changes that have taken place over the 30 years of its existence – both the benefits and the challenges. These themes were taken up by the principal guest speakers – the representative for the Minister, for Health and Social Welfare and His Excellency the Vice-President of the United Republic of Tanzania who emphasised the importance of e-health resources in the education and practice of health care and the effects of health on poverty and the national economy.

The next exciting event was the presentation of the CABI prize by His Excellency to Dr. Alison Kinengyere & Glorias Asiimwe (Uganda) for their report on the activities of the Uganda Chapter of AHILA and their aims. Their main focus is, and continues to be, on training and the promotion of continuing professional education.

Then  began a rich feast of presentations which addressed some of the challenges to be faced by the information professions: a web based site to improve collaboration and efficiency of clinical trials for new drugs; social media and "infodemiology" of misinformation – its identification and containment; an African perspective on sensitive health-related data; and MEDBOX an online library suitable for health workers in crisis situations.

As Professor Musoke [The University Librarian, Makerere University] emphasised in her keynote address, AHILA and its Chapters must ensure that its structure is able to meet and support the benefits and challenges of ICT in the provision of  relevant, safe and secure health information to all who need it.  

 This report also appears on the Global Health Knowledge Base .

 Further Reading

AHILA e-newsletter October 2014

 

Health inequality, health disparity, health equity: what’s the difference?

Well if you are at the bottom of the social heap, striving to find enough money to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head…not much.

But if you want to understand how a government or a researcher or  development worker thinks and works to improve your lot (& public health in general), then you need to know the difference.

So here goes:

Health inequality and health disparity are used interchangeably, depending on the country. AS an English speaker, there is a nuanced difference between the term inequality and disparity. Inequality  to me comes with an ethical link behind it whereas disparity implies there’s just a difference.

But for researchers and policymakers, there is no difference between health inequality and health disparity. So here is their definition:  differences in health between populations (defined by country or regions) and between groups based on gender or socio-economic status or ethnicity. Having established these differences through evidence (and there’s lots), its up to you or your government to decide if the difference is worth addressing.[ In our database Global Health, records using either term are found but are all indexed with & will be retrieved consistently using “health inequalities”]

Whereas health equity is understood by all in the field that these differences in health are immoral, that they are linked to social or economic status, “the rich live 7 years longer than the poor” in the UK, the average life expectancy of a woman in Swaziland is just over 1/2 that of her equivalent in Sweden (48 vs 84 years): it comes with a value judgement that “everyone is entitled to a healthy life” unless demonstrated otherwise…and that otherwise would  have to be environmental  or genetic effects which could not be changed.  And at that point you’d move into the area of Quality of Life, which is outside the subject of this blog.

Indeed it has been suggested that it is a human right to expect a healthy life (for however long that might be);

Article 25 of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948):

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

The implications of this for international law &, clearly, the practicalities are still being worked out…

Two conferences in November (EUPHA 10 ( Amsterdam) and APHA  2010 (Denver) are addressing health inequality and health equity (the latter under the theme of "social justice").

If I get sick, will she know what to do?

Access_healthcare Copyright: John & Penny Hubley

 

This blog is contributed by Dr Neil Pakenham-Walsh, Coordinator of HIFA2015 , the global campaign and email forum focussed on informed healthcare provision in developing countries. We in richer countries take for granted that our healthcare providers have access to the information they need to make informed decisions...

Every person has access to a healthcare provider. (Nearly every person – there are sadly a number of people who are destitute, utterly alone and abandoned by everyone around them.) I use the term ‘healthcare provider’ to mean anyone who is responsible for providing care at any moment, including and especially parents and family caregivers. Even the very poor have access to a healthcare provider.

The problem is, if you are one of the world’s majority poor, the chances are that your healthcare provider will be uninformed. As a result, you are likely to receive ineffective or harmful care, and you may die simply as a result of this care.

You are most likely to die in the home or local community, without seeing a trained health worker. The most high-level healthcare provider present in your final hours and minutes may be your mother, a family caregiver, a traditional healer, a village health worker or perhaps a midlevel health worker. Their decisions will mean the difference between life and death, between your living for another day or becoming a statistic  -  one of the tens of thousands of children and adults who die prematurely and unnecessarily every day in low-income countries.

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