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The Roles Of Information And Communications Technology In Healthcare In Ethiopia

2787 words - 12 pages

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has an increasing role in modern healthcare management systems. Healthcare management is the integration of information technology, computer science, information science and healthcare. ICT has experienced an increased diffusion rate in the past decade, which has proven to be a very effective catalyst for economic and social progress. In developing countries such as India, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, this is especially reflected by their mobile phone subscriptions, many of which are even ahead of developed countries, accounting for two thirds of all subscriptions (Burney et al., 2010). Similarly, increased internet penetration has also been observed in these countries in the past five years. Such widespread use of related technologies may be taken advantage of in providing healthcare to those in need at a very low cost, particularly to those in remote areas, where travel may prove to be problematic. Ethiopia is one such country that may reap the benefits of emerging technologies in eHealth, healthcare practice that is supported by electronic processes and communication. Currently, the country is vulnerable to countless diseases, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and meningitis. With a ranking of 99 out of 103 on the UNDP Human Poverty Index, “Ethiopia is one of Africa’s poorest states, with 45% of its 77 million people living below the poverty line” (WHO, 2014). Abject poverty as described, coupled with a limited number of health institutions and transportational limitations (more than 50% of the Ethiopian population live over 10km away from the nearest health facility), are the main contributing factors to the nation’s health crisis. The aforementioned obstacles may be overcome by emerging technologies in eHealth, and will be explored in upcoming sections.

2.0 Mobile and Internet Penetration
Ethiopia has one of the world’s lowest mobile and internet penetration rates. Whilst other African countries have an average mobile penetration rate of 70%, only 25% of Ethiopians have access to mobile phone service (The Economist, 2013). The nation’s internet penetration rate is even lower, at merely 1.48% in 2012 (Figure. 1). Already a 21% increase from 0.07% a decade ago, efforts in promoting nationwide internet access seem to be unsuccessful. Fortunately, Ethiopian leaders recognize the problems they are facing, and have a “$1.6 billion agreement with China’s two leading telecoms-equipment companies [Huawei and ZTE] to upgrade its [mobile] network”. Ultimately, this deal will aim to “provide soft loans to buy a Chinese-built 4G broadband network for the capital, Addis Ababa, and an expanded 3G network for the rest of the country” (The Economist, 2013). Hopefully, this deal will promote enough ICT growth to make noticeable changes in day-to-day life, particularly the widespread usage of mobile and internet services throughout the Ethiopian population.

Figure. 1
3.0 Emerging Technologies...

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