Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Digital technology is transforming the world, and Liberia can use this technology for tremendous purposes of wellbeing in almost all the sectors that drive the Liberian Economy. Out of some of the highly advanced digital technologies, mobile phone can present HealthCare, education and agriculture sectors in Liberia with unprecedented opportunities to run their operations and provide the chance for Liberia to leap ahead in a way that was unimaginable just a few years ago. This article is the first of a three part series detailing how the mobile phone can be a key transforming agent in the future of HealthCare, Education and Agriculture in Liberia. In this article we will discuss how the mobile phone can transform HeathCare in Liberia.The mobile phone is a strong contender in fundamentally transforming the future of health and healthcare in Liberia. There are now more than 1.5 million cell phone users in Liberia. Liberia now has a pathway to reach the population who were unreached earlier, and deliver health services directly to people rather than just in health facilities.Liberia’s healthcare sector is severely short of healthcare resource constraints, equipment and drugs. In such a country with severe resource constraints, mobile phones can be a major boon as it can empower both patients as well as healthcare practitioners (HCPs) by providing them with the necessary information required to make informed decisions about health issues such as timely monitoring of diseases, adequate health care provisions and making health living choices.As mobile phones have reached much deeper into Liberia than any other technology, it can help in supporting diagnosis, make collection of health data easier as well as advance research and education in the remotest and resource-poor regions of Liberia.The rapid penetration of mobile phones in the country provides good opportunity to reach those segments of the population who are currently left out because of distance and lack of communication, using ‘mHealth’ (mobile health) programs.Health centers in Liberia face difficulties getting the required medical supplies and drugs they need to treat patients. As a result, a large number of Liberians are plagued with preventable and treatable diseases. The mHealth programs can help overcome these infrastructure challenges and can help health workers to collect and disseminate logistics.Apart from helping patients, mobile phones can also prove helpful to health care providers in Liberia. The mobile phones can empower health care providers to provide high quality of patient care. Due to the shortage of healthcare facilities in Liberia, many Liberians have to wait for weeks and even months to get a physician’s appointment. With the adoption of mobile phones, healthcare facilities can remotely connect, interact and monitor with thousands of patients.In addition, there are several mobile apps that offer quick access to medical research from mobile devices to physicians. These apps can help doctors better understand the health of patients and provide improved care for the patients. Such apps are now being used by several countries in Africa. In Kenya, there is Child-Count, a SMS-based system that allows health care workers to register and treat children with acute malnutrition and diarrhea. By integrating healthcare with such mobile technology, Kenya aims to end poverty and reach the UN Millennium Development Goals by 2015.The use of mobile phone can transform the entire health care system of Liberia by allowing doctors to deliver higher quality patient care and can ensure that more people in Liberia receive better care.
‘Special needs’ education…national database to be implementedBy Jarryl BryanThe Regional Centre for the Diagnosis of Special NeedsAn inaugural Regional Centre for the Diagnosis of Special Needs is expected to open its doors this year, the fruition of a partnership between the governments of Guyana and Cuba; with local authorities announcing plans to formulate a national database of such students.On Monday, a pioneering batch of special needs educators graduated with certificates. According to Education Minister Nicolette Henry, the event was a significant one, more so as there were two male educators in the batch of eight.The minister also stressed the need for more males to step up in the education system. Here she saluted the two male graduates. Henry noted the importance of tailoring education programmes to suit individual needs. To help in this regard, she spoke of a national database as part of her Ministry’s strategic special education plan.“That plan has six broad areas, and among those areas there’s focus for the creation of a national database for students with special education needs. In other words, once a student would have been referred to the centre, subsequent to a minimum of three interventions, the student would have a specific classification.”According to Henry, the national database would help to formulate special intervention plans for these students, in addition to providing numbers that the Ministry can then use to shape its hiring practices.The graduating batch pose with Government officials. Front row, (from left): Chief Education Officer Marcel Hutson, Permanent Secretary within the Public Health Ministry, Collette Adams; Education Minister Nicolette Henry; Cuban Ambassador to Guyana, Narciso Socorro; and Education Ministry Permanent Secretary, Vibert Welch“They would have an officially drafted, individualised, education plan. It is with this data that the number of students would inform the Ministry of the numbers of special needs (students). Therefore, the numbers of teachers and support services would be contingent on that. Our plan is to have the centre open for the next academic year, which starts in September.”She revealed that an individual education plan officer would be employed with the centre, serving as a liaison with the ministry. Recommendations would also be made, if so determined, for placements into mainstream education facilities.The official opening took place at the National Centre for Education Resource Development (NCERD) on Battery Road, Kingston. However, the centre itself will be located adjacent to the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE).The centre is a partnership between the governments of Cuba, Guyana and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Dr Jorge Duvalon of Universidad de Santiago in Cuba is understood to be the project coordinator.Cuban Ambassador to Guyana, Narciso Socorro, also delivered some remarks. He noted that his government remains committed to advancing special education needs in Guyana.“The idea of creating the regional centre for the stimulation of the development of children, adolescents and young people with special needs arose from the heads of state and government who participated in the (summit) between the Caribbean Community and Cuba in Havana. Since then, progress has been made,” he said.“At present, the diagnostics process is expected to begin in the school, based on the condition created with the opening of the centre. In my opinion, this graduation is an important step forward in the future.”The batch of trainers who graduated had been a part of a three-month session undertaken by trainers from the Government of Cuba. They were offered training in psychology, physiology, occupational therapy and speech therapy.