Project Lead(s): Harvy Joy Liwanag
The World Health Organization has identified lack of expertise and inadequate information systems as two of the challenges to overcoming the global impact of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), which affect at least 42 million at-risk individuals worldwide, including the population of 44 provinces in the Philippines.
Lack of trained individuals in isolated and poor areas often results in misdiagnosis, suggesting the need to improve access to quality diagnostics, train laboratory personnel and enhance data gathering.
This Philippine project was intended to implement the ctrl.para.site – a tele-parasitology system linking peripheral labs to experts via an online microscope/mobile phone interface. It was anticipated that this would have a multiplier effect of improving access to diagnosis and treatment, capacity-building and creating new information.
The project team first reviewed the published literature for existing telehealth applications that could serve as a model for ctrl.para.site. The review found several examples of telehealth applications for improving diagnosis, but few focused on parasitic infections.
Using lessons from the review and existing models of telehealth in the Philippines, an initial draft manual of procedures for the proposed medical tele-parasitology system was written.
An initial meeting with the University of the Eastern Philippines (UEP) was held, as the UEP was proposed to host the regional referral centre for capacity-building of local laboratory personnel in the diagnosis of selected parasitic infections.
Unfortunately, due to the resignation of the primary investigator (PI) and delays in appointing a new PI, the project was discontinued and did not achieve proof of concept.
However, the project team did succeed in drafting a manual of procedures for piloting a medical tele-parasitology system in the Philippines, in consultation with stakeholders. Support was also mobilized from key stakeholders in Catarman, Northern Samar, who were keen on supporting the project.
No additional work on the project is planned post-grant.