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

 

Dengue situation in a Southern Indian state (Andhra Pradesh) – Gaps and opportunities in Community Awareness

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Photo: WHO/J.Gusmao. Used tyes are an ideal habitat and breeding ground for mosquitoes carrying dengue

Our guestblogger is Dr Manoj Aravind, a researcher in Community Medicine, Hyderabad, India and member of the health information forum HIFA2015.  Under World Health Day 2014's theme "Small bite, big threat" with its goal of better protection against vector-borne diseases, he describes the case for community action against dengue in his home state of Andras Pradesh. He can be contacted directly by email: aravindbm@gmail.com

Dengue is the fastest growing vector-borne disease (VBD) worldwide, and Andhra Pradesh (a Southern Indian state) is no exception. Here, the cases of dengue reported have been steadily rising from 313 in 2008 to 2299 in 2012. The issue of missed cases due to the partial reporting of dengue positive cases by private hospitals and clinics, which are the most commonly used heathcare facilities in our state, make us sceptical of the true burden of this potentially deadly disease. Having a tropical climate, with increasing urbanization, mostly unplanned, and not much “people participation” in health issues increases our cause for concern.1

Mosquitoes are the most common insects today that city dwellers encounter and one species, Aedes aegypti,  are the vector for dengue, transmitting the disease to people via their bite: they are day-biting and breed in clean water collected inside and around houses, especially in urban areas.2 As dengue does not have vaccine or cure, the emphasis is on prevention. The World Health Organization is using this year's World Health Day to build awareness about VBDs and reinforce the need for community empowerment in terms of protecting against these small creatures which are a huge threat to the health of the entire community.3 Andhra Pradesh’s state health machinery is using this opportunity to reach out & empower different stakeholders with effective communication and information.

Awareness of people regarding dengue

When there is no biological vaccine for a disease, knowledge of how this disease spreads and how to prevent this becomes very important. It may then be apt to say that health education leading to healthy behaviours acts as a social vaccine.

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The 2014 World Health Day focuses on Vector-Borne diseases

WHO_SHollyman_woman&net Tanzania
Image : WHO/S.Hollyman

From guest blogger: Dr Joseph Ana, Editor-in-Chief, BMJ West Africa and member of the steering group of the health information forum HIFA2015 . He can be contacted directly by email: jneana@yahoo.co.uk

It
is right that the World Health Organisation (WHO) should focus on vector borne diseases this year, and by so doing raise awareness, disseminate information and improve, hopefully prompt, more effort at preventing and managing the myriad diseases that vectors inflict on man, especially in the Tropics and Sub-tropics.

Whether it is from the arthropod invertebrates of mosquitoes (malaria, dengue, yellow fever), sandflies (skin and systemic Leishmaniasis), bugs (Louse-borne typhus), and ticks (Lyme disease); or from crabs/crayfish (paragonimiasis) and snails (schistosomiasis), or from vertebrate vectors like bats (rabies, ebola disease), vectors are responsible for a large chunk of the disease burden thathealth systems across the globe have to deal with, particularly in the poorer tropical and sub-tropical parts. There is a popular saying that the Traditional African way of cooking all meals ‘well done’ and avoiding eating raw sea food (crabs and crayfish) has helped to keep to a minimum diseases from these vectors.  Snail is also a very popular delicacy which is served ‘well cooked’ for the same reason.

The World has experienced increased incidence of arthropod borne disease since the 1970s 1,2,4, especially in the regions with the weakest health systems such as the tropics and subtropics. But for several reasons the temperate parts of the globe are also affected, which is why it is apt and timely that the WHO is focusing world attention on vector-borne diseases this year (2014). The reasons that account for the global nature of the menace of vector-borne diseases include increased travel by all modes; poor public health practice and infrastructure; massive population increases with urbanization and slums; poor surveillance and control measures; changing agricultural practices and deforestation; lack of effective drug and insecticide control leading to resistant vectors and pathogens; inadequate political will;  etc.

The World should recognize, support and assist those countries where good public health practice has shown that control (and elimination) of vectors leads to decrease in vector borne diseases and help to extend such best practices to regions that are lagging behind. A good example of such best practice in the tropics is Cross River State of Nigeria which has a deliberate Public Health Policy of making its major urban areas ‘Clean and Green’ beginning from Calabar, the state capital.

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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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