|Title||The RAFT network: 5 years of distance continuing medical education and tele-consultations over the Internet in French-speaking Africa.|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2007|
|Authors||Geissbuhler, A, Bagayoko, COumar, Ly, O|
|Journal||Int J Med Inform|
|Date Published||2007 May-Jun|
|Keywords||Africa, Computer Simulation, Computer-Assisted Instruction, Curriculum, Education, Distance, Education, Medical, Continuing, Educational Technology, Humans, Internationality, Language, Referral and Consultation, Remote Consultation|
Continuing education of healthcare professionals is a key element for the quality and efficiency of a health system. In developing countries, this activity is usually limited to capitals, and delocalized professionals do not have access to such opportunities, or to didactic material adapted to their needs. This limits the interest of such professionals to remain active in the periphery, where they are most needed to implement effective strategies for prevention and first-line healthcare. Telemedicine tools enable the communication and sharing of medical information in electronic form, and thus facilitate access to remote expertise. A physician located far from a reference center can consult its colleagues remotely in order to resolve a difficult case, follow a continuous education course over the Internet, or access medical information from digital libraries or knowledge bases. These same tools can also be used to facilitate exchanges between centers of medical expertise: health institutions of a same country as well as across borders. Since 2000, the Geneva University Hospitals have been involved in coordinating the development of a network for eHealth in Africa (the RAFT, Réseau en Afrique Francophone pour la Télémédecine), first in Mali, and now extending to 10 French-speaking African countries. The core activity of the RAFT is the webcasting of interactive courses. These sessions put the emphasis on knowledge sharing across care professionals, usually in the form of presentations and dialogs between experts in different countries. The technology used for the webcasting works with a slow (25 kbits/s) internet connection. Other activities of the RAFT network include visioconferences, teleconsultations based on the iPath system, collaborative knowledge bases development, support for medical laboratories quality control, and the evaluation of the use of telemedicine in rural areas (via satellite connections) in the context of multisectorial development. Finally, a strong emphasis is put on the development of capacities for the creation, maintenance, and publication of quality medical didactic contents. Specific courses are organized for the national coordinators of the network to develop these competencies, with the help of the Health-On-the-Net Foundation. The richness of the plurality of knowledge and know-how must be steered towards emulation and sharing, respectful of each partner's identity and culture. Collaborations with UNESCO and WHO have been initiated to address these challenges.
|Alternate Journal||Int J Med Inform|
Please note that this Website is not maintained any longer and contains probably outdated information. You are still welcome to use it if it is of any help.