Up until recently there has been a lack of functioning diagnostic equipment in secondary and tertiary facilities. What equipment has been available when functional have often been described as antiquated. It has not been uncommon for district or central hospitals to report the lack of ability to perform, what some might say are simple diagnostic or investigative techniques such as X – rays, Full blood counts or automated biochemistry test.

The expansion of Tuberculosis control to include community structures manned by setting specific appropriate volunteers is in keeping with the sustainable development goals and the Global TB departments flagship strategy the end TB strategy. It helps increase access to the diagnostic process as well as access to the correct quality assured timely treatments.

SATHSSP is among a number of initiatives or funding mechanisms that is successfully help integrate varying technologies to Tuberculosis/ Lung Health. For the first time the Malawi Tb program will be able to track patients progress through the TB diagnostic process all the way to starting treatment. To simplify it has been achieved with some cheap smart phones and a glorified desktop computer (server) and the inescapable internet. What is remarkable is the technology is some of the primary users are lowly little educated villagers. At the secondary and tertiary level digital x – rays with computer aided diagnosis linked to a server at a central level acting as image repository.

An elderly woman with basic learning demonstrating use of iPhone app

In both cases technology and its use are being embraced to simplify a process or better follow an intended beneficiary. It is a triumph because simple technologies can be linked together to make simple tracking systems that do not require education to use and follow all to the benefit of the patients and the departments M&E.

The use of digital X-rays means quicker cheaper diagnosis. In both cases the applicability and possibilities are numerous. Tracking MDR – TB patient progress through out treatment? how about using the interconnected digital x-rays as the first step in telemedicine? The central image repository as a teaching aid or mentoring aid?

They are successes because they open up new possibilities new ways of doing things. SATHSSP has helped us embrace technology.


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