Monday, February 6, 2012

Open Source Tackles Healthcare In Places Microsoft Can't

"At one hospital in Kano, Nigeria, 50 babies are born each day. And it’s not exactly prepared to handle them all. “We’re talking about one midwife taking three deliveries at a time,” says Evelyn Castle.

"Nonetheless, Castle aims to create digital records of those births and the hundreds of others happening across northern Nigeria each day — even as she and another American ex-patriot, Adam Thompson, are working to digitize the health records of adults across the region, including polio cases and expectant mothers who’ve tested HIV positive. It’s an enormous task, but the size is only part of the problem. Castle and Thompson are introducing western technology to facilities that aren’t familiar with it — and may not have the resources to handle what they are familiar with.

"'This is one of the most difficult places on the planet — in many ways,' says Andrew Karlyn, who spent three years as the country director in Nigeria for the Population Council, a nonprofit that seeks to improve living conditions in places across the globe. 'If you’ve got a barely literate medical technician, who only knows how to use a microscope to look for Malaria and fill in a form, you can’t just put a fancy computer in front of him and expect him to use it.'"

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