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E-health and its growing role in HIV response

The field of E-health exists in a dynamic capacity in the sense that it is always changing in its nature. It presents various benefits in its pursuit to improve the way healthcare is administered. Two of the biggest benefits that have been received are those of its savings in cost and efficiency. However, there is so much more to this field that deserves more recognition. E-health plays a massive role in the global response to HIV/AIDS. It has facilitated the circulation of ease of access to information regarding prevention strategies as well as courses of action in treatment for those in remote areas. The advent of electronic health records has also provided the medical field with comprehensive and timely access to patient information.

Social media also plays a major role in disseminating information across mainstream platforms. With all of these avenues of convenience for all parties involved, one could see that the necessary steps are being taken in order to maximize the effectiveness of response to HIV/AIDS. However, one has to take into account the level of inequality with regards to the lack of access to the technology that facilitates these mechanisms which certain parts of the world do not have. More needs to be done in order to allow for these mechanisms to be accessible for all. In order to understand this idea of unequal access, one has to look and understand the different parts of E-health.

As mentioned previously, mechanisms such as the electronic health record system as well as M-health tools (mobile phones, patient monitoring devices, personal digital assistants and wireless devices for medical and public health care practice) and social media all form part of E-health. Probably the most important requirement for all of these mechanisms would have to be access to the internet. There are many areas that do not have access to the internet and, as such, the majority of people locally cannot make use of these mechanisms. This limitation needs to be addressed in conjunction with educating people about these different tools.

The benefits of these actions will be apparent and will take the form of improved response to HIV/AIDS today. Such actions are already taking place around the world. One example can be seen in Lesotho, which has the world’s second-highest prevalence of people living with HIV (25%). The country’s Ministry of Health has collaborated with Vodafone on a smartphone app for health professionals, allowing anyone who is identified as HIV-positive in remote communities to receive transportation funds to treatment centers via Vodafone’s M-Pesa money transfer scheme. Actions such as this will go a long way in hastening the global response to HIV/AIDS through digital and technological innovation and advancement.

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