In countries with high rates of malnutrition and protein deficiency, germs, which usually do not cause disease, can spread rapidly and lead to devastating disfigurement. Noma is one of these diseases. The effects of Noma on infants and young children who no longer breastfeed are particularly severe. These children are unable to develop the appropriate biological defenses and become victims of the disease.
These children are sometimes ostracized from their environment due to their disfigurement and although they are completely healthy after recovering from the disease, they are unable to lead normal lives.
The fact that doctors, who use their time and knowledge, to help these children and give them a normal life is more than admirable. Regular interventions in affected areas in Africa require extensive planning so that the entire team can effectively use the time on site to help as many children as possible.
Two Noma clinics have been set up in Niger and Guinea-Bissau in close cooperation between Hilfsaktion Noma e.V. and Österreichische Nomahilfe, in which local specialists are trained, supported, and educated by intervention teams. Complex reconstructive procedures are performed by doctors from Vienna such as Dr. Harald Kubiena with the support of local doctors.
“An important part of overall treatment success, in addition to the proper preparation of our young patients, is the post-operative care of the children. After the early post-operative phase which focuses on healing, standardized rehabilitation treatment of the jaw over the next few months is essential for optimal results,” says Dr. Kubiena. The notes and images taken during operation are important for monitoring the progress of a patient over the course of treatment which can sometimes include multiple operations.
Especially for subsequent operations, good documentation of “what has happened so far” is extremely important.
In autumn 2017, 4myHealth and Dr. Kubiena decided to cooperate in order to digitize the documentation of the clinics in Niger and Guinea-Bissau. Although the IT infrastructure in Guinea-Bissau and Niger is not up to date, there is internet and computers. The doctors themselves have their laptops with them to help out.
4myHealth is currently the most innovative system used in Austria and internationally for the documentation of consultations and has, among other things, an integrated image management system that is simple and very easy to use. Using a smartphone, photos can be transferred immediately to the respective patient file. No cable or memory card is required and this feature is available from anywhere in the world with an adequate internet connection. Since 4myHealth does not require any software and can be operated using only a web browser, mobile use is very easy in areas with older IT infrastructure.
As soon as a patient is digitally captured in 4myHealth (images and information about the person and the operation), this information is available to the entire international NOMA Hilfe Team. Colleagues can view a patient file immediately and there is no need for paper or e-mail communication.
“For us, 4myHealth is like someone switching on a second surgical light where we can see and work better with it,” says Dr. Kubiena with satisfaction. “We immediately have all the data we need under our control and we don’t want to go back to what it was like before this system,” adds the surgeon. This system is not just for surgeons but also for anaesthesiologists who are particularly challenged when treating children suffering from Noma.
For 4myHealth, it was clear that they wanted to help and be part of this wonderful initiative. The whole team was enthusiastic from the very start. “It’s a nice feeling to know that we can help with our system and that the entire international NOMA Hilfe team benefits from it. We hope that we will have to create a lot more accounts on 4myHealth so that doctors and assistants have the opportunity to simplify their work,” says Walter Gries, co-founder of 4myHealth.
4myHealth System was made available to NOMA Hilfe without any restrictions.
“For us and our colleagues on site, 4myHealth is much more than just a telemedical documentation tool – it makes the treatment of our patients even more effective before, during and especially after sometimes complex surgical procedures. It has become an essential pillar in ensuring the overall success of treatment,” says Dr. Harald Kubiena.
NOMA Hilfe and 4myHealth – a successful partnership of the present and, with regards to all the successfully treated children in the poorest countries of the world, the future.