The digital healthcare services namely ‘mHealth’ can turn out to be a boon to proper treatment for diarrheal disease in Bangladesh, experts have opined.
“The physicians can use the mHealth system for proper treatment of diarrheal diseases in Bangladesh. The system helps diagnose the patients properly alongside measuring their fluid and antibiotic requirements,” IEDCR Director Meerjady Sabrina Flora told the daily sun.She added that they have already done a ‘successful’ pilot project to carry out experiment about using the mHealth system in 10 hospitals of the country in 2018 and urged the authorities concerned to apply the method nationwide.
Describing the mHealth, Flora said the physicians can apply the mHealth system through apps to assess the patients’ condition and give them proper treatment.
“Initially, we want to use the mHealth for diarrheal disease all over the country and then gradually we can use the method for other diseases. We are seeking government support,” she added.
According to the experts, mHealth (mobile health) is a general term for the use of mobile phones and other wireless technology in medical care.
They said mHealth can be used for disease surveillance, treatment support, epidemic outbreak tracking and chronic disease management.
mHealth is gradually becoming a popular option in underserved areas where there is a large population and widespread mobile phone use, observed the experts.“Sometimes, some children affected in diarrhea die from excessive use of fluid. The mHealth can calculate the actual requirement of fluid necessity for patients. It will prevent using excessive saline for patients and also prevent excessive use of antibiotic,” said ASM Alamgir, senior scientific officer of IEDCR.
IEDCR along with International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) and the University of Florida, conducted a research on the mHealth in 10 hospitals in the country last year.
The project focused on mHealth solutions to diarrheal disease especially for two reasons, according to IEDCR.
The first reason being that diarrheal disease globally remains the second leading cause of death for children less than 5 years of age. Barriers to combat this problem include poor adherence to guidelines for rehydrating children and outbreaks often outpace current epidemiological tools.
The second reason is that a model system needs to develop to treat diarrhea including cholera, and mHealth solutions can be adapted to more complex chronic and acute diseases in Bangladesh and globally as well, said an IEDCR report.
It said the project was developed to compare a paper versus a smartphone decision-support tool in a cluster randomized controlled trial (cRCT) to determine the impact of the method of decision-support on the use of IV fluids and medications.
The smart phone tool was an adaptation of the paper-based World Health Organization guidelines, and is called the ‘Rehydration Calculator.’
The cRCT was conducted at 10 government hospitals in Bangladesh over 4.5 months.
Data were collected on demographic information, clinical assessment, treatment and outcome of the disease.
The findings are encouraging and will reduce the uses of antibiotics to improve antibiotic stewardship.
IEDCR with its partners will try to replicate the mHealth platforms in other hospitals of the country.
At a dissemination workshop at the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) on Monday, the research findings were presented by Meerjady Sabrina Flora, Ferdousi Qaderi, senior scientist and Aushraful Islam, scientist of icddr,b and Eric J Nelson, University of Florida.
ICT State Minister Zunaid Ahmed Palak was present at the programme as the chief guest while Nasima Sultana, additional director general of Directorate General of Health Services, as a special guest.
IEDCR hosted the programme on the evaluation of a mHealth platform for diarrheal disease decision and support in hospitals.
Scientists from IEDCR, icddr,b and University of Florida participated in the event presided over by IEDCR Director Meerjady Sabrina Flora.