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OLPC for Health Workers in Developing Countries: A proposal

Background Emerging and expanding projects involving the use of mobile/wireless technologies for enabling health services (mHealth network) are abound in developing countries. These are mostly small scale but few large scale ones. Parallel to this development is the increasingly availability of high perfoming health application software for transmission and exchange on these mHealth networks. These softwares include open-source derived health applications like electronic health records, health management information system, online telemedicine/teleconsultation platforms etc. These are applications are currently being deployed on basic interface design suitable for low-performance mobile devices such as mobile phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs). However because of the increasingly demand of the health system for more data and information, many of these applications are being offered as web-services, these with more advanced user interface that will require other high performance devices. Moreover, health workers as “knowledge workers” will also require an adequate interface to access health information for healthcare purposes. Aside, capacity building will also require access to continuing educational materials (CMEs) and other health and educational databases in enabling them in delivering quality and effective healthcare. It is therefore apparent that small screen size and the low-performance of mobile phones and PDAs are not adequate enough for meeting these demands. Hence, making the case for a high performance device like a laptop should suffice. However, convectional laptops are expensive and financially not accessible to the public health sector in developing countries. Aside, most available laptops are not built to operate sustainably or effectively in communities with poor electrical infrastructure and harsh climatic environments of most developing countries. These reasons therefore support the use of low-cost laptops such as OLPC for meeting this above elaborated end.

Objective 1. To port these widely available health applications software onto OLPC for health workers usage in developing countries. 2. To pilot these OLPC for health application in some existing mHealth programmes in developing countries preferably in Africa.

Plan The plan for this will involve linking OLPC for health with these mHealth projects and application developers in joint initiatives in achieving these set objectives. The piloting of the OLPC for health applications will then be evaluated for factors that can influence their successful adoption and diffusion. These will also include research into emergent factors that can be used to further influence the contextual adaptation of OLPC and the health applications for healthcare in these environments.

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