We recently came back from a field deployment in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We installed 6 Electronic Medical Record (EMR) solutions and another 5 radio sites.
If you have 12 million who are living in the Lake Tanganyika Basin who can be treated for all the preventable and public health diseases as well as the direct issues of maternal health, we are talking about saving probably hundreds of thousands of lives over the course of the next ten years.
Digital Communications in Ultra Rural Areas
The Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic has initiated a groundbreaking communication system on the shore of Lake Tanganyika. It began with the installation of high frequency radios in DRC health centers that operate without any type of phone service. This allowed these centers to communicate with their regional hospitals to seek advice on patient care and report of infectious disease outbreaks. The LTFHC then expanded this network in rural Tanzania, this time with the addition of a specially tailored electronic medical record (EMR) designed in partnership with iilab.
By 2015, we will have expanded this network to another eight locations in DRC. This expansion will not only help bridge the communications gap between health centers, but will also establish hub sites that collect and relay electronic data, creating the first medical database in the region. Together, these tools will enable better treatments and preventative practices, leading to greatly improved outcomes for patients, as well as education and training opportunities for health care workers. For the first time, accurate epidemiologic data will be collected via the EMR and transmitted over the radio.
Facts and Figures
- Overview Longest and second largest lake in the world by volume, bordered by four countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Burundi and Zambia
- Origins Lake was formed 9-12 million years ago near center of Great Rift Valley
- Volume 19,000 km3, almost one fifth of the world’s available fresh water
- Shoreline 1,900 km; home to 3.5m people
- Population Wider Lake Tanganyika Basin supports 12-13m people
- Ecology Major source of the mighty Congo River and helps sustain the world’s “second lung”- the Congo Basin forest
- Biodiversity One of the last genuinely untouched biodiversity hotspots with 600 unique aquatic species and around 1500 varieties of flora and fauna. Half of Lake Tanganyika’s species are found nowhere else on earth
- Resources Western shore abounds in industrial minerals, with massive oil and gas reserves under the lake
- Infrastructure Limited cell phone coverage, hazardous or non-existent roadways, no nearby railroads. Isolated airstrips. Boats across Lake Tanganyika provide safest and easiest way of moving across region