1 June 2013

Tanzania: Health Experts Eager to Further Protect, Promote Children's Health

Windhoek — TANZANIA is amongst countries that are attending the 8th International Conference on ICT which is in its second day here in Windhoek, Namibia, standing out from the crowd in its achievements on e-learning tool that it has been tested and introduced in the country.

The tool called Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) Computerised Adaptation and Training Tool (ICATT) is software that facilitates the training of IMCI. The use of the tool requires minimal personnel in training IMCI.

IMCI is an integrated approach to child health that focuses on the wellbeing of the whole child. It aims at reducing death, illness and disability, and to promote improved growth and development among children under five years of age.

These diseases are such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, measles and malnutrition. According to Prof Senga Pemba, Director for the centre (TTCIH), it can be easily adapted to country's specific features such as treatment guidelines and rolled out for the training of healthcare personnel in IMCI.

He says so far ICATT has been tested and introduced in Tanzania, Peru and Indonesia and is being further rolled out by the WHO. The tool has been proven to facilitate faster and more flexible up scaling of IMCI training.

One of the trainers at TTCIH Dr Aza Lyimo who is also attending the Conference said that the training time and costs using such tool are reduced and consequently more people can be trained in the management of childhood illnesses.

He further explains that the majority of childhood deaths can be prevented through promotion of accurate identification of childhood illnesses, ensuring appropriate integrated treatment of all major illnesses.

Also, through strengthening the Counselling of caregivers and identifying the need of and speed up the referral of severely ill children as stipulated in IMCI training. However a crucial factor is the development of skilled human resources for health, he said.

Prof. Pemba further explains that in order to strengthen the skills of healthcare personnel working with sick children, the Novartis Foundation for sustainable Development - together with the World Health Organization (WHO) - has been instrumental in the development of the tool that is in use eLearning.

Meanwhile the Foundation is developing a similar tool for training in Integrated Management of Pregnancy and Childbirth (IMPAC) in collaboration with the WHO and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute. IMCI is a WHO/UNICEF strategy that aims to significantly and rapidly reduce infant and childhood mortality.

The Director explained that their partners Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development aims to contribute to the achievement of the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by improving access to healthcare specifically for women and children.

In order to strengthen human resources in healthcare and improve access to healthcare for patients in remote areas, the Novartis Foundation applies innovative e-health technologies in its project. In an effort to strengthen human resources in rural areas, the NFSD has started a telemedicine project in Ghana in cooperation with the Millennium Villages Project (MVP).

The project is being implemented through the local MVP infrastructure in Bonsaaso. TTCIH said that the goal is to provide quality primary health services that are affordable, sustainable and meet the needs of patients through m-health applications.

It is interesting to see how the project is inclusive since it will build upon current health sector initiatives in Bonasaaso and adapt to existing mobile health platforms, such as Child Count, a system that uses text messages to deliver vital health information of patients from a mobile phone to a database.

As part of this process, a new teleconsultation centre will provide structured decision support to health workers in clinics as well as to community health workers engaged at a household level. But when assessing the quality of healthcare services through mobile technology in Tanzania, the Foundations ACCESS project in the country aims to improve access to effective malaria treatment and care, in particular for pregnant women and children less than five years of age.

One of the interventions is targeted at the quality of healthcare services, facilitating training for healthcare personnel and performance assessments in health facilities. The TTCIH explains in its brochure that is displayed at the exhibition here that is taking place along with the conference that this project is not only infrastructure and equipment, but also entails job expectations, motivation and clinical skills of healthcare staff.

It also includes facility management and patients' satisfaction which are continuously measured. Therefore TTCIH attendance and its partners at this conference is a golden chance for the country to showcase its achievements and grab the opportunity to look for windows of opportunities that are already in the market on eLearning among others and being exhibited here during the conference.

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