‘Big data and its impact on healthcare’ was the title of one of the panel discussions that took place Thursday afternoon at the Convention Centre in Port Vila in the program to mark Pacific ICT Days this year in Vanuatu.

A total of seven health experts, most from different sections of the Ministry of Health talked about their use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in delivery of quality health services to the people.

The experts’ discussions focused on the use of ICT to distribute pharmaceutical supplies to health facilities throughout the country, disease surveillance, telemedicine and management of health facilities.

Agnes Mathias who works at the Government’s Central Medical Store in Port Vila talked about how they use government’s intranet services to distribute medical supplies to the Northern Provincial Hospital in Luganville, Santo, Lenakel Hospital, Tanna and Norsup Hospital, Malekula that in turn distribute the supplies to the rural health facilities.

“We find that with the use of ICT our services are efficient, wastage is reduced and we can know at any moment how much of the supplies has been used and how much is still available. And we can also make orders without the hustle of using the pens to do the orders manually,” Mathias named some of the advantages of ICT use.

Rachel Takoar, Health Information Manager of the Ministry of Health (MoH) talked about the data base system they use – DHIS2 to collect and store data from the 140 health facilities throughout the country not to mention aid posts which is making their work a whole lot easier.

Two officers of the Public Health Disease Surveillance described how similar their work is to those who do surveillance for tropical cyclone and provide warnings and actions, now using ICT. They gave dengue fever as one disease that they are watching using the ICT tool KeboCollect and in Vanuatu, they say the dengue fever is decreasing. It is now only found in outer islands of the country “while in New Caledonia dengue as of this week is increasing and also in Fiji”, they said.

Steven Leo, a nurse at Kerepei Health Centre on Maewo and Alexis Cullen, the Peace Corp volunteer who initiated the telemedicine project at Maewo gave an update on the progress of the project, supported by the Government of Vanuatu through OGCIO. The project is now said to be in the process of being rolled out to other remote areas of Vanuatu.

And finally, Peace Corp volunteer Michael Tohig discussed the use of ICT as a tool to manage health facilities and assets of the Ministry of Health throughout the country. He described how the tool can help with areas such as knowing about the facilities, what state they’re in, what funding should be allocated in next year’s budget for instance for repair purposes and so on.

The panel discussion was moderated by well known local ICT personality, Fred Samuel.

Jonas Cullwick, a former General Manager of VBTC is now a Senior Journalist with the Daily Post. Contact: jonas@dailypost.vu. Cell # 678 5460922

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