In a country such as Mongolia, doctors are, due to the geographical situation (huge country, sparsely populated, hardly any roads), very isolated and left all by themselves with difficult patient cases.
In 2008, some members of One World Medical Network in collaboration with the Swiss Surgical Teams supported by the SDC built up a telemedicine network that supports Mongolian doctors with diagnoses and clinical decisions. In the meantime, all of the 21 aimak hospitals are connected to hospitals in the capital city Ulaanbaatar via internet and the telemedicine platform CampusMedicus.
More than 30,000 patient cases have been diagnosed so far. Patients suffering from tumours, babies suspected of having hip dysplasia and women being screened for cervical cancer – each of them can get correct diagnoses from experts.
Some members are also involved in advising projects in Mongolia executed by UNFPA, the Lux Dev Project and the Millennium Challenge Account.
Due to the earthquake in 1988, Armenia has been weakened significantly. In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed. This has had a negative impact on the country’s economy. The government invests less than 2 percent of the GDP in health care for the population.
Medical care and training of doctors in Armenia are mostly poor which is reflected in inadequate medical equipment. Hospitals in Yerewan but even more Vanadzor and Gumry as well as the rural regions are affected. Many Armenians do not have enough money to pay a doctor’s bill and private health insurance is not affordable for many of them.
In 2010, some members of One World Medical Network collaborated with the pathologist Prof. Dr. med. Martin Oberholzer building up a telemedicine network in Armenia which helps doctors making diagnoses and clinical decisions. The Arabkir hospital in Yerewan as well as the hospitals in Vanadzor and Gumry have been equipped with computers, microscopes, light tables and cameras for digitizing radiographs. The telemedicine platform CampusMedicus and this equipment enables doctors to be connected to each other in Armenia as well as to international radiologists and pathologists.
Paediatric neurology (neurology for children) is a complex interdisciplinary field which is barely represented in underserved developing countries. Paediatric neurology is clinically and scientifically concentrated on acute and chronic neurological diseases in childhood. This includes diagnostics and therapy of children.
The main focus is on the following diseases:
- infectious diseases concerning the brain such as bacterial or viral meningitis/encephalitis
- cerebral malaria
- tuberculosis meningitis
- HIV / AIDS
- epilepsy (which occurs in Africa more often than it does in our country)
- cerebral pareses (= spastic movement disorders after damages in early childhood)
Within this project, the children’s hospital in Beira is equipped with devices for teleneurology, telepathology and teleteaching. By using those devices, digital pictures can be taken. With the help of a telemedicine platform, doctors from Beira can interchange difficult patient cases with German doctors. Diagnoses are available within a short period of time for further treatment. Doctors from Mozambique will take part in lectures with expert doctors via the telemedicine platform and the integrated teleteaching module. Difficult patient cases will be discussed live via telemedicine platform. This procedure enables doctors from Mozambique to gain experience discussing patient cases and learning-by-doing. Doctors from LMU (Munich University Hospital) will travel to Beira repeatedly in order to work with doctors and train them locally.
Partners of OWMN for this project are
- LMU Munich (Munich University Hospital), paediatric neurology
- University of Beira, UCM, Mozambique
- Children’s hospital of Beira, Mozambique
Leading killer of African women
The most common cause of cervical cancer is an infection with certain types of human papilloma virus (HPV), which is usually transmitted sexually. Although most HPV infections clear up on their own and most pre-cancerous lesions resolve spontaneously, there is a risk for all women that HPV infection may become chronic and pre-cancerous lesions progress to invasive cervical cancer.
It takes 15 to 20 years for cervical cancer to develop in women with normal immune systems. It can take only 5 to 10 years in women with weakened immune systems, such as those with untreated HIV infection. (source: WHO)
In most African countries, unlike in Germany, there are no regular gynaecological examinations of women. Due to this fact, patients are only diagnosed at an advanced stage of the disease. This is usually too late for treatment. The high incidence of HIV disease aggravates the situation even more, as HIV-positive women suffer from cervical cancer 4-5 times more frequently than HIV-negative women.
According to a WHO study, there is a shortage of trained health workers in developing countries. The training of the middle level of medical staff is a solution to reduce this shortage of doctors in rural areas.
The training of medical staff and doctors, especially in rural areas, will be the beginning of our project work. This guarantees the sustainability of the project. We will focus on teaching how prevention and detection of cervical cancer can reduce the mortality rate of women in rural areas. As there is hardly any laboratory equipment available in rural areas, the health stations will be equipped with simple tools and equipment.
In a second step, district hospitals will receive telepathology and eLearning equipment. These devices allow the acquisition of images with a microscope and the projection of images for educational purposes.
With the help of a telemedicine platform, medical staff and physicians will be able to exchange and discuss difficult patient cases with physicians from OWMN. Diagnoses will be available within shortest time. Video lectures will be available for health worker and physicians.
Physicians from OWMN will travel to the countries to supplement the training of health workers and doctors. Blended learning will be part of the project work.