SEATTLE, Washington — Technology is advancing at rapid rates. It’s hard to imagine going one day without using a smartphone, a car, or even an indoor shower. Despite significant advancements, a large number of people live without a proper toilet or modern healthcare facilities. “Health is wealth” and poor health stands in the way of breaking the poverty cycle. Luckily, technology is advancing global healthcare by saving and improving the quality of life.
Most commonly thought of as a toy or a secret weapon of the military, drones are aiding medical in humanitarian work. A drone is a remote-controlled aircraft without a human pilot on board. Drones are able to complete distant or dangerous tasks without risking human life.
Doctors are saving lives that they wouldn’t be otherwise able to spare thanks to drones. These machines are vital in quickly delivering medical support for urgent situations in remote areas. They can send vaccines, medications and plasma. Drones also provide clinical diagnosis and treatments. During the COVID-19 pandemic, hard to reach areas in Ghana and Rwanda are receiving personal protective equipment and other medical supplies to aid during the lockdown via drones.
Mosquitos are the deadliest animals in the world, killing about 100 million people a year. The majority of these deaths are due to malaria carried by mosquitos. The World Health Organization estimates that there were 228 million malaria cases in 2018, and Africa is the region with the highest number of deaths from the disease. Mosquito nets and insect repellents were having minimal impact, so engineers and scientists aimed to stop the problem at the source. The solution? Drown the mosquito larvae with a non-toxic solution called Aquatain AMF. The biodegradable liquid gel is sprayed over malaria hotspots using drones and satellite navigation systems. The process is done without damaging farmers’ crops.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science developing smart machines capable of doing things humans do. It aims to replicate and produce knowledge of machines or humans. AI can produce treatment plans, predict outbreaks of disease and provide accurate diagnoses.
In regions like Rwanda, lack of PPE and other medical resources makes contracting highly contagious viruses more likely. Thankfully, AI robots are saving lives by reducing the spread of viruses in high-risk areas. The Zora Bots, donated by United Nations Development Program, have been critical in areas with high COVID-19 positivity. The robot nurses take temperatures, measure vitals and provide video feedback correspondence between doctors and patients.
Medical diagnosis and disease prediction
In regions like Uganda, where Malaria is the leading cause of death, a quick and correct diagnosis is powerful. In most underdeveloped areas, often there aren’t enough pathologists to read slides which leaves them overworked, resulting in delayed diagnosis and misdiagnosis. The Lifelens diagnosing app takes a 30-minute process down to two minutes. It takes the burden off of the doctors and increases accuracy. In just minutes, the smartphone app can make a malaria diagnosis by using a pin-prick of blood and a specialized lens attachment on a camera phone.
Medical professionals are also using artificial intelligence to predict disease outbreaks. Some doctors in hard to reach areas do not have the opportunity to collaborate with their peers. Using AI to analyze vast databases, doctors can promptly predict and control outbreaks, which would be detrimental to the health and wealth of their communities https://www.daytranslations.
Referred to as “healing from a distance,” telemedicine is the practice of providing patient care remotely through video call on a computer screen. When social distancing is necessary but there is a lack of doctors in an area, telemedicine can save the day. In most developing countries, there is a shortage of doctors; Ethiopia has about one physician for every 36,407 people. Through a video call, a medical provider can diagnose, treat and provide medical advice to their patient. Telemedicine allows people to receive medical attention that used to be out of reach for them.
The future for global healthcare
In underdeveloping areas, technology is a pillar of hope to make healthcare more accessible. Gaining resources and legislation to support technologies can accelerate the transition out of poverty. Medical efficiency will increase as technology advances, resulting in a decrease in medical costs and an increase in availability. Technology is one essential part of advancing global healthcare.
– Tara Hudson