Innovation and technology can maximise maternal, child health care delivery

− use of drones in hinterland on the cards

− innovation for communication, efficiency emphasised

DPI, Guyana, Monday, November 4, 2019

The Maternal and Child Health/Expanded Programme on Immunisation is hosting its final quarterly meeting over the next three days, November 4-6, 2019. The need for more innovation, along with the use of technology, to maximise the programme was highlighted at today’s forum.

At the meeting, the successes in maternal healthcare with the continued reduction of maternal deaths and excellent coverage for vaccine-preventable diseases were pointed out. Public Health Minister, Hon. Volda Lawrence charged healthcare workers, from all ten regions, who gathered at this meeting, to bring to the field of health new and innovative ways of achieving goals and targets.

The minister noted that this starts at the level of interacting with patients and should impact policy decisions. She remarked that new ideas and strategies for eliminating diseases by vaccination and preventing maternal deaths are possible and needed at this time.

Referring to the participation of local health professionals at workshops and conferences with other countries, the Public Health Minister noted that with the plethora of information shared, Guyana could learn for other countries.

Sometimes you go to those conferences, and you hear presentations from many other countries some of them not as big and as wealthy as ours, but they have been smart in the way in which they spend their resources … we have to ensure that we find innovative ways,” Minister Lawrence noted.

She spoke of the need to think outside-the-box and cited the example of a simple idea that was conceptualised and is now critical to the vaccination programme locally.

“I speak of the immunisation software channel at the National Vaccines Bond in Kingston (Central Supplies Unit), and all but three of the regional facilities are using it to provide information in a timely way.”

With the expectation of more similar innovations coming to the fore, the ministry hopes that communication is prioritised. PAHO/WHO Representative in Guyana, Dr. William Adu-Krow noted that his agency is continually doing its part in supporting the ministry’s push to maximise the use of technology.

He spoke mainly about the access to critical and essential medicines and other supplies, especially in the hinterland.

“There are places in this country that is so far and so difficult to reach that not even contractors [persons who might bid], having been given a bit of money would like to go in… PAHO is also working with the ministry, and by the third or fourth week of this month, we are sending one person from ministry and one person from a drone company to visit Malawi… we are going to be using drones to send supplies to these hard to reach places.”

The use of the drone technology will allow for timely delivery of items, bypassing the traditional or existing system relied on for this process to be successful. When fully implemented, this will be supported by the issuing of satellite phones, moving away from radio use which may no longer be an effective method of communication.