How Mobile Phones can Transform Health, Education and Agriculture in Liberia

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Digital technology is transforming the world, and Liberia can use this technology for tremendous purposes of wellbeing in almost all the sectors that drive the Liberian Economy. Out of some of the highly advanced digital technologies, mobile phone can present HealthCare, education and agriculture sectors in Liberia with unprecedented opportunities to run their operations and provide the chance for Liberia to leap ahead in a way that was unimaginable just a few years ago. This article is the first of a three part series detailing how the mobile phone can be a key transforming agent in the future of HealthCare, Education and Agriculture in Liberia. In this article we will discuss how the mobile phone can transform HeathCare in Liberia.

The mobile phone is a strong contender in fundamentally transforming the future of health and healthcare in Liberia. There are now more than 1.5 million cell phone users in Liberia[1]. Liberia now has a pathway to reach the population who were unreached earlier, and deliver health services directly to people rather than just in health facilities.

Liberia’s healthcare sector is severely short of healthcare resource constraints, equipment and drugs[2]. In such a country with severe resource constraints, mobile phones can be a major boon as it can empower both patients as well as healthcare practitioners (HCPs) by providing them with the necessary information required to make informed decisions about health issues such as timely monitoring of diseases, adequate health care provisions and making health living choices.

As mobile phones have reached much deeper into Liberia than any other technology, it can help in supporting diagnosis, make collection of health data easier as well as advance research and education in the remotest and resource-poor regions of Liberia.

The rapid penetration of mobile phones in the country provides good opportunity to reach those segments of the population who are currently left out because of distance and lack of communication, using ‘mHealth’ (mobile health) programs.

Health centers in Liberia face difficulties getting the required medical supplies and drugs they need to treat patients. As a result, a large number of Liberians are plagued with preventable and treatable diseases. The mHealth programs can help overcome these infrastructure challenges and can help health workers to collect and disseminate logistics.

Apart from helping patients, mobile phones can also prove helpful to health care providers in Liberia. The mobile phones can empower health care providers to provide high quality of patient care. Due to the shortage of healthcare facilities in Liberia, many Liberians have to wait for weeks and even months to get a physician’s appointment. With the adoption of mobile phones, healthcare facilities can remotely connect, interact and monitor with thousands of patients.

In addition, there are several mobile apps that offer quick access to medical research from mobile devices to physicians. These apps can help doctors better understand the health of patients and provide improved care for the patients. Such apps are now being used by several countries in Africa. In Kenya, there is Child-Count, a SMS-based system that allows health care workers to register and treat children with acute malnutrition and diarrhea. By integrating healthcare with such mobile technology, Kenya aims to end poverty and reach the UN Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

The use of mobile phone can transform the entire health care system of Liberia by allowing doctors to deliver higher quality patient care and can ensure that more people in Liberia receive better care.

 

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