November 2002 -- At current infection rates, a fifteen-year-old
boy in Botswana now has an 85 percent chance of dying of
AIDS and there will be more than 40 million AIDS orphans
in Africa by 2010. Doctors in Uganda and Kenya, whom until
now have been battling epidemics like AIDS with limited
resources, are turning to new technology to give them the
information they need to help save lives.
In an announcement today, Skyscape, said that its medical
references are being used by doctors in Africa to treat
patients and save lives as part of the groundbreaking SATELLIFE
"There is an urgent need to improve healthcare in Africa,
where close to 3,000 people are dying every day from AIDS. SATELLIFE
and Skyscape are rallying resources and technology to help doctors
gain easy access to medical data to provide better healthcare,"
said Holly Ladd, Director of SATELLIFE. "Though African doctors
are well-trained professionals, their computing resources are
limited - the average U.S. America Online (AOL) user has access
to more medical information than many doctors in Kenya and Uganda.
The information problem is even greater in rural locations where
doctors cannot access the up-to-date information they need as
they treat patients."
Breaking Down The Barriers To Better Care
In many African countries, the cost of an Internet connection
is more than 20 percent of a doctor's annual salary. For years
SATELLIFE has been working to give medical professionals access
to the tools and information they need to improve the quality
of medical care around the world. But it is estimated that it
will take an international government and business initiative
of US$7-10 billion to combat HIV/AIDS, in addition to developing
the infrastructure required to train worldwide medical communities
in order to improve the quality of medical care.
Handheld devices solve a major medical hurdle by enabling quick
and easy access to critical information-giving medical practitioners
the capability to retrieve information about a disease on the
spot or evaluate the effectiveness of different drugs based on
a certain patient profile within seconds. Today in the U.S., more
than one in four doctors use handheld devices, and the number
is projected to grow to more than 50 percent in the next two years.
But in Africa, the number of doctors who have even any computer
access is extremely low. Where they are accessible, they are often
shared by as many as 30 doctors.
||Palm PDA's loaded with Skyscape-powered versions
5 Minute Clinical Consult, 5-Minute
Pediatric Consult and A
to Z Drug Facts (published by Lippincott Williams &
Wilkins and Facts & Comparisons respectively) enable doctors
to access information that is usually only found in medical
reference libraries or well-staffed hospital research libraries.
Using the PDAs loaded with clinical software from Skyscape,
physicians can diagnose illnesses, determine treatment, prescribe
medication, identify drug interactions, calculate dosages,
and perform all necessary steps involved with quality patient
care wherever they are using their handheld device. Teemed
with local treatment guidelines developed for the handheld
by SATELLIFE, this gives doctors a powerful tandem of medical
"The ability to leapfrog into the latest handheld technology
holding the most advance medical references in the world is now
a reality for medical practitioners in developing countries. Much
like cell phones have provided telecommunications to remote areas,
handhelds are providing critical medical information to previously
inaccessible areas," said RJ Mathew, vice president of marketing
and business development, Skyscape.
About the SATELLIFE PDA Program
SATELLIFE, a non-profit based in Boston, has been providing health
and medical information to the developing world for 12 years.
The SATELLIFE PDA program loads PDAs with the latest medical texts,
field surveys, health references and guides for diagnosing diseases
and ships them to medical professionals working in Africa. In
Kenya and Uganda, PDAs are being used to get critical health information
to doctors. SATELLIFE provided more than 80 PDAs loaded with software
from Skyscape, half to medical students in Kenya (Moi University
Medical School), and the other half to practicing doctors in Uganda
(Makerere University Medical School). The PDAs, which were obtained
via a grant to SATELLIFE from the Acumen Fund, were loaded with
an easy-to-use malaria survey and medical content. For more information
or to provide resources to this life saving program, please visit
PDA Project website.