Publication: Healthcare information and the rural primary care doctor

An editorial in the South African Medical Journal about the importance of healthcare information access for institution of proper healthcare services in rural settings, especially in the context of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Chatterjee P, Biswas T, Datta A, Sriganesh V. Healthcare information and the rural primary care doctor. S Afr Med J. 2012 Feb 23;102(3 Pt 1):138-9. PubMed PMID: 22380905.

‘People are dying for lack of healthcare knowledge.’ (Pascal Mouhouelo at the launch of HIFA2015, Mombasa, Kenya, 2006)1

‘I do not need to know everything. I just need to know where to find it when I need it.’ (Albert Einstein)

Health inequity and improper dispensing of social justice is a huge topic of which one aspect is healthcare information and access to it. Access to health information is a ‘prerequisite for meeting the Millennium Development Goals’,1 and lack of knowledge and information, especially in resource-poor settings, impedes the delivery of quality healthcare and contributes to many preventable deaths worldwide. Three out of four doctors responsible for care of children in district hospitals in seven less developed countries reported inadequate knowledge in managing common childhood illnesses such as childhood pneumonia, severe malnutrition and sepsis.2 A review3 concluded that information deficiency exists ‘right across the health workforce’ and can be associated with provision of suboptimal care.

In the Internet era information is widespread and readily available. However, problems are evident when considering the information needs of primary care physicians in rural environments in developing countries. Topping the list is lack of access to relevant information, which retards ‘knowledge-based healthcare’ in developing countries.4