The papers at the past three days at the Congress have covered a wide spectrum of subjects reflecting the Congress themes: ICTs and access to information and knowledge. Information seeking behaviours, access to and resources for health information have been extensively reported in papers covering disparate groups ranging from academic researchers and students to mothers and students, teenage pregnant girls and older people (60 onwards).
The problems of providing health information in rural areas, where some religious and cultural values can be a barrier to western medicine were the subject of a number of studies and lengthy discussion. They were enhanced by a session organised by Dr. Neil Pakenham-Walsh of HIFA, who had invited community health workers and their Project Manager, Dr. Edoardo Occa, to describe the work of CUAMM – Doctors with Africa (an Italian organization involved in the training of Community Health Workers at the grass roots level in seven African countries). It was an eye-opener to learn of the tremendous workload and the problems they met. Neither of the two health workers who spoke had ever been to Dar es Salaam and their presentations were given in almost instant translation by Mr. G. Faresi a community health worker trainer with the project. To round it off we were shown all the books and equipment that has to be carried by visiting health workers as they cycle great distances. It is obviously very heavy.
This was followed up by an excellent and complementary description of training Community Health Extension Workers in Kenya – an initiative carefully planned and carried out by the Kenya Chapter of AHILA (Ken-AHILA).
Jean Shaw, Phi