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AFRO-NETS> Electronic Media for District Health Managers (6)

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>From Fri Jan 24 15:43:02 1997
Posted: Thu, 23 Jan 97 23:00:01 -0100
Date: Fri, 24 Jan 97 11:26:01 -0100
Author: "irene bertrand"

Electronic Media for District Health Managers (6)


I congratulate you on the correspondence about electronic media for district 
health managers (and others). It seems that this is an idea that is coming 
of age, especially with the development of "network computers" (stripped 
down PCs that are easier to operate and support) based on a network around a 
centre that looks after software upgrades and general support needs. Several 
bodies seem to be looking at the idea of support for resource 
centres/information centres/centres for policy and debate - call them 
whatever - and the technology in terms not only of hardware but 
infrastructure is beginning to arrive (e.g. the report from Namibia). (That 
is not to say that there is not a long way to go and that the need for good 
old-fashioned printed forms will not remain.) There is still a need for 
advocacy for support for information infrastructure development.

To the obstacles or concerns raised by Fred Bukachi and Helga Patrikios may 
I add that of quality of information? Still very much a novice on the 
Internet (yes, even in the UK) I am struck by the sheer volume of 
information available and the low percentage of that information that is 
relevant or useful. In addition finding and accessing it can be slow and 
expensive. My plea is for more concern about the content - more effort needs 
to be put into sifting, sorting , gathering and evaluating the information 
that is so retrieved. That may need skilled staff in regional or national 
centres for health information delivery and exchange who can act as 
"clearinghouse managers" for information (not quite re-inventing libraries 
and librarians I think!, but building on them or complementing them), 
positively seeking, evaluating and repackaging information in appropriate 
forms for different target audiences.

Also I believe that skilled support services are not only necessary to 
maintain any network but also a serious cost consideration.

Experience has shown that information is not always considered in health 
interventions. For example, an HIV/STD intervention proposal in West Africa 
recognised the difficulty of operating at several sites but had not included 
electronic networking (even rudimentary) in the proposal. Perhaps we could 
increase our efforts to persuade proposal writers and funders to recognise 
the value of information and communication.

Thanks and best wishes

David FitzSimons
CABI (until the end of February 1997);
also contractible at:
10 Leinster Road, London N10 3AN, England
Tel./Fax  +44-181-883-2693
e-mail (at present)

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