Posted By: Jason Friesen on October 12, 2011

Labels: Haiti , Global Health Expertise, Health Systems Strengthening

Mediterranean Emergency Medicine Congress

In September, the Project HOPE Haiti office was at the 6th annual Mediterranean Emergency Medicine Congress (MEMC) in Kos, Greece, to share updates from our recent work on an emergency care development program in Haiti. The poster presentation described a new SMS-based emergency medical dispatch technology we have been developing with partners in order to provide rural and ex-urban communities in resource-poor countries with low-cost emergency medical dispatch capabilities using basic, low-cost mobile phones. 

MEMC is the largest emergency medicine conference outside the U.S., and conference was co-sponsored by the American Academy of Emergency Medicine and the European Society for Emergency Medicine. The conference lasted five days and had over 2,000 emergency medicine specialists as presenters, representing more than 75 countries. The opening ceremony involved a reading of the Hippocratic Oath in Greek at the site of the ruins of the temple of Asclepieon in Kos, which is known as “the birthplace of Western medicine.” It was in Kos that Hippocrates studied and taught in the 5th Century B.C., and is commonly referred to as the father of Western medicine for establishing the Hippocratic School of Medicine. 

“Mobile Phone-based Emergency Medical Dispatch in Low-Income Countries – A Pilot Program in Haiti”

The Project HOPE poster was entitled, "Mobile Phone-based Emergency Medical Dispatch in Low-Income Countries – A Pilot Program in Haiti,” and described the joint partnership with Trek Medics International and Medic Mobile/Frontlines SMS, and utilizes an open source platform that does not require an internet connection to function.

There’s no community that doesn’t have to deal with medical emergencies. Road traffic injuries, childbirth and acute exacerbations of chronic diseases are major public health risks in all communities, and positive outcomes for many of these emergencies are often dependent upon rapid, basic care. So, the biggest problem is often a matter of simply getting trained responders where they need to be, when they need to be there. By providing basic care in the field and rapid transportation to the local hospital, major steps can be taken to lower morbidity and mortality for a range of problems. 

The aim of the mobile technology is to circumvent the need for the highly expensive and resource-intensive 911 dispatch systems commonly found in wealthy North American and European countries. Haiti, like many developing countries, does not have the financing and robust telecommunication systems to implement these technologies. As a result, communities are unable to organize and sustain effective, basic emergency response teams. However, with the implementation of this new system, and coupled with additional training components in their emergency care development program, Project HOPE is confident that effective community-based prehospital care systems will become a reality in Haiti.

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