Improving healthcare in earthquake-hit Haiti
Natural disasters, such as earthquakes and hurricanes, can cause major destruction and affect the lives of thousands of people. Some of the biggest problems, particularly in poor countries, are access to proper healthcare and a breakdown in communications. Luckily, satellite technology can help to improve the problems many people face.
ESA supports a new system that can be used when there aren’t enough trained medical professionals or when phone networks don’t work in the aftermath of a disaster. Designed by companies in France and Portugal, the system is based on satellite telephones and satellite navigation. It makes up for the lack of local doctors and nurses by helping ordinary people to accurately report the symptoms of a patient.
The system was used successfully in Haiti, where a massive earthquake struck in 2010. During a five-month trial in Carrefour, a poor district in the main city of Port-au-Prince, 10 teachers were trained to use the system. More than 4,300 symptom reports were sent, allowing health experts to diagnose and make decisions on treatment almost immediately. The system is being expanded to include more remote areas in Haiti.