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ASIA-PACIFIC POPIN BULLETIN. 1992 Jun; 4(2):13-7.The ability to access and use information is increasingly becoming a crucial determinant of a country's ability to achieve sustainable socioeconomic development. Countries which are able to manage and utilize data and information have a competitive advantage over other nations. Countries which fail to tap into the growing global knowledge base, develop a complementary local knowledge base, promote the dissemination and use of knowledge, and invest in institutional and technical human capital will, however, simply remain or fall behind the competition. Many developing countries lack appropriate strategy, financial support for information centers and networks, timely adoption and use of new technology, adequate telecommunications infrastructure, and coordination at national and regional levels. Further, telecommunications services are costly, research on user group behavior is inadequate, few technically skilled people are available, and governments fail to recognize the importance of joining international information networks. Policy development, maternal-child health and family planning, and information, education, and communication are 3 of the most significant population issues worldwide. To best address these issues, international development agencies are urged to veer from providing capital and to directly support greater access to information and enhanced knowledge leading to sustainable national development. Thus far the UN has helped create global information systems in certain areas, and regional cooperative information systems are being developed. ESCAP has taken the lead in Asia and the Pacific. Gradually, population libraries and information centers are becoming computerized. Greater effort is recommended to recover costs for services and products. Further, donors and country organizations should stress that information is only useful as far as it is used.
In: Management information systems and microcomputers in primary health care, edited by Ronald G. Wilson, Barbara E. Echols, John H. Bryant, and Alexandre Abrantes. Geneva, Switzerland, Aga Khan Foundation, 1988. 17-20.A wide array of issues must be addressed if the development and use of management information system (MIS) and microcomputers are to improve management of primary health care (PHC) programs and increase the equity and cost-effectiveness of PHC. These issues include: specification of the purpose and objectives of MIS at community and district levels; distinquishing types of information required; the understanding of organizational issues that must be resolved as a result of introducing MIS; the practical definition of the most useful indicators of program effectiveness and efficiency; the specification and monitoring of data collection, compilation, and analysis requirements and procedures; procedures for generating and using processed MIS data and management information; the PHC program's capacity to absorb technological innovations; and personnel requirements. The need for improved data systems must be recognized. Data quality and systematic flow of information must be ensured from the field level upwards, and minimum information requirements need to be defined. The success of any MIS is heavily dependent on feedback of the data collected. Unless staff at all levels of a PHC program understand the importance of the data they are collecting, the value and use of the information system will be negligible. Examples of the Egyptian government's National Health Information System and the role of the World Bank are used to show how MIS and microcomputer can be introduced and used in PHC.
PUBLIC HEALTH REPORTS. 1986 Nov-Dec; 101(6):616-23.In 1984 the Western Consortium for the Health Professions, Inc., under contract to the UNFPA, began a project to assist Bangladesh's National Institute for Preventive and Social Medicine (NIPSOM) in establishing a microcomputing capability. The project's goal was to enable NIPSOM to become self-sufficient in the analysis by microcomputer of health, population, and family planning data; program evaluation; and policy activities. Lack of a local microcomputer infrastructure demanded that a local team of experts be developed to run the system described in a previous report. 5 NIPSOM faculty members--3 of whom had taken the workshop held when the system was 1st installed-- were assigned to a computer committee, which was responsible for the computer's well-being. 6 months after the microcomputer system was installed, a 2nd 2-week workshop was given. The consortium's consultant facilitated the development of a basic microcomputer course, which was taught by 4 members of the computer committee to an additional 8 NIPSOM faculty members. Emphasis was placed on developing local self-reliance and the need to overcome obstacles imposed by the lack of local hardware and software support systems. A strategy is proposed for the successful introduction of microcomputers in developing countries.
In: Bannerman RH, Burton J, Ch'en Wen-Chieh. Traditional medicine and health care coverage: a reader for health administrators and practitioners. Geneva, Switzerland, World Health Organization, 1983. 184-93.It has been estimated that from 25 to 75 thousand species of higher (flowering) plants exist on earth. Of these only about 1% are acknowledged through scientific studies to have real therapeutic value when used in extract form by humans. A computerized data base on the chemistry and pharmacology of natural products is available. The data base is maintained in the Department of Pharmacognosy and Pharmacology, College of Pharmacy, University of Illinois, at the Medical Center, and has been given the acronym NAPRALERT (Natural Products ALERT). A systematic surveillance of the world literature on the chemistry and pharmacology of natural products has been in progress since 1975. In addition, a substantial amount of retrospective information has been acquired and computerized on selected genera of plants and on the pharmacological activities of natural products. These retrospective searches extend back into the mid 1700s. The major fields covered in the NAPRALERT system are 1) the organism record; 2) work types; 3) compound record; 4) pharmacology record; and 5) demographic record. There are 2 major areas in which traditional medicine can be served through the use of NAPRALERT: data retrieval and problem solving. Since most problems in traditional medicine are regional ones, it is possible to program the NAPRALERT data base to respond primarily to questions concerning plants of a specific country, or within a given continent. Recently the NAPRALERT base has been made available to individuals, industrial firms, academic institutions and government agencies with a modest fee calculated on the basis of actual computer time required to generate data output, the cost of copying the material and the mailing costs. In the near future, NAPRALERT will be approaching international funding agencies to enlist their cooperation in financing a 10 year program that will allow them to computerize all of the world literature on natural products as far back as 1900. This will be an enormous effort, which cannot be effectively accomplished without direct cooperation from interested scientists and institutions in developing countries. A plan for obtaining that objective is outlined.