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SATELLIFE Personal Digital Assistants
Institution: Acumen Fund
American Red Cross
Makerere University Medical School, Kampala, Uganda
HealthNet, Uganda
Eldoret, Kenya
Moi University Faculty of Health Sciences
Indiana University Kenya Program
Theme: Institution and HR Management
Implementation Date: Dec 31, 2001
Summary: The goal of the SATELLIFE Personal Digital Assistants project was to demonstrate the viability of handheld computers (also called personal digital assistants, or PDAs) for addressing the digital divide among health professionals working in Africa. The project, which started in 2001, uses affordable technologies to link health professionals in developing countries to one another and to reliable sources of information.
ICT can play an important role in combating disease and improving health care. The project used ICT as a tool to collect community health information to support decision-making; improve doctors' access to current medical information; link health-care professionals so that they could share information and knowledge; and enhance health administration, remote diagnostics and the distribution of medical supplies.
The project was conducted in three phases. The first phase put the handheld computers to use for field surveys by linking this project to a widespread measles immunization campaign being conducted in Ghana by the American Red Cross in December 2001. The SATELLIFE-American Red Cross joint effort used 30 PDAs in a short-term survey intended to determine the efficacy of the outreach efforts of the measles immunization campaign and to collect some baseline health information.

The second phase – in Uganda – tested the use and usefulness of 40 PDAs by medical practitioners for conducting an epidemiological survey on malaria and accessing and using medical reference tools and texts.

The third phase – in Kenya – tested the use and usefulness of 40 PDAs by students for collecting field survey information and accessing and using medical reference tools and texts as part of their studies.

Impact: The SATELLIFE PDAs project has helped to improve health in the world's poorest nations through the innovative use of ICT. The conclusion of a cost-benefit analysis done during the pilot stage was that, over the short period of eight months during which the PDA project was being piloted, there was a 24.2 per cent increase in benefits per unit of spending. It is highly likely that the value could become much higher with time since the period of analysis included learning costs that are bound to decrease with time. Moreover, a scaling up of the PDA system to the same level as that of the manual system is likely to generate economies of scale that would further increase the benefits and reduce costs. Thus the SATELLIFE system not only provides better health care for Kenyan citizens, but it also reduces the costs associated with health care.
Source: ITU
Project Home URL: http://www.healthnet.org

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