The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has created its own digital platform to bring a telehealth system to those in the remotest parts of Latin America and the Caribbean. “The aim of the platform is to improve patient outreach and follow-up, with an emphasis on continuity of care for people with noncommunicable diseases (NCDs),” said Sebastian Garcia Saiso, the Director of the Department of Evidence and Intelligence for Action in Health at PAHO.
Accounting for more than 70% of deaths across the globe, NCDs are the leading cause of disability and death in the world. The platform will be able to help ailing patients and allow healthcare workers to refer patients residing in remote locations before they undertake potentially burdensome travel.
The platform will be rolled out to The Bahamas, El Salvador, Honduras, Peru, Suriname, Dominica, Uruguay, Panama and Nicaragua. Below is a comparison of the PAHO telehealth system and those currently in place.
Telehealth System in Trinidad and Tobago
In a collaborative effort between PAHO and the Ministry of Health of Trinidad and Tobago, mobile medical robots underwent deployment to public health facilities in the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. This benefitted those in the community who did not want to be face-to-face with their health care provider during the outbreak.
This shows that PAHO is not unfamiliar with working in Trinidad and Tobago and its continued work to get the most vital telehealth services to those who need them.
According to Erica Wheeler, a PAHO representative in Trinidad and Tobago, “Since the COVID-19 pandemic, both patients, as well as health professionals, are more eager now to engage in the use of the benefits of telemedicine.”
Telehealth System in Peru
Compared to other countries, Peru accelerated the implementation of telehealth services in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While this was a step in the right direction, Peru’s telemedicine system was considered a hasty step because of inadequate internet access nationwide.
Peru has many factors working against the efforts of telemedicine to be effective. These include geographical concerns, costly internet prices and a high population of low-income individuals. PAHO’s “All-in-ONE Telehealth platform” will help to reach out to these people and have routine checkups to keep diseases, especially NCDs in check.
Telehealth System in Uruguay
The government of Uruguay saw the need for online health care and, in 2012, created the website “Salud.uy.” The National Agency of Electronic Government, Uruguay’s Presidency, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Economy all collaborated in developing the platform. In March 2020, the government passed legislation to encourage telemedicine development and implementation in Uruguay. While Uruguay has made great strides in its own goals of getting telemedicine across the country, the efforts of PAHO will help those in the most remote spots.
The comparison of the PAHO telehealth system and those currently in place in countries across Latin America and the Caribbean revealed that many countries need help to bring the benefits of telehealth to their citizens. PAHO’s system will serve as a bridge by aiding those who need the most help.
– Sean McMullen