Telepaediatrics, primary health care and developing countries
AbstractTelepaediatrics, which has the potential to improve paediatric care if expert knowledge is not locally available, involves transfer of information between two or more locations, to aid diagnosis or management and/or to allow continuing professional development and education. Developed nations first introduced telemedicine. Later developing countries with different needs, levels of expertise and infrastructure often applied it in a modified manner. Teleradiology and/or tele-education/ distance learning were usually the first applications of telemedicine and telepaediatrics is a more recent form of telemedicine. Developing country paediatrics typically involves primary health care (PHC) providers who deal with more serious morbidity and a greater proportion of the population than those in developed countries. Nurses provide PHC in most rural areas in
South Africa and other developing countries, where telemedicine may improve PHC, as has already been seen in South African pilot schemes outlined below. In general telepaediatrics benefits from previous telemedicine experience, such as that gained by some developed nations with sparsely populated, remote areas, where means of communication are simple and socioeconomic conditions poor.