I have been writing a few articles on telemedicine in developing countries for two weeks now. Before writing about this topic, I have to admit I had very little knowledge of the subject itself. After this two weeks of reading and writing, I think I have a fair idea what telemedicince is, the advantages, disadvantages and still trying to decide if PNG needs a network.
The advantages of telemedicine
There are some benefits of having a telemedicine network in a developing country and I think these mainly address the shortage of specialist human resource. For example, there is not enough doctors, especially specialists, in a country like PNG and this is one area that telemedicine can help. Improving and creating new professional network between doctors from developing countries and high income countries is another.
Providing a continueing medical education service for doctors in the bush will also help rural doctors to keep in touch with the rest of the world. After all, medical practise is determined by research data and we need to update ourselves once in a while.
These are but some of the advantages that telemedicine has to offer to countries like PNG.
The disadvantages of telemedicine
The major obstacle I see right now is the costs. The costs of not only setting up a network but actually sustaining the telemedicine network. Information communication technology seem to change every year and regular updates will be required.
My other concern is that there is a risk of the local health care system becoming “too dependent on outside help”. The telemedicine network in developing countries is usually set up with “out side help”. What will happen if the “out side help” decides to roll back its support?
And so I will stop here on the issue of telemedicine for the time being. However, I will continue exploring the posibility of a telepathology network in PNG and see if I can help set up one some day.
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