Technological advancement has culminated in the development of various sectors and industries both in developed and developing countries. Nonetheless, corruption, bad leadership, and inadequate financial resources all contribute to the underprivileged failing to access good healthcare. Statistical evidence shows critical discrepancies between access levels and penetration of sensible healthcare into such countries. Admittedly, the disadvantaged merely access good healthcare yet the affluent access world-class services still in the same countries. Consequently, studying such issues creates a platform for questioning the various factors that hamper access to quality healthcare in these countries. By utilizing craftily developed and structured payment systems and technical know-how in the healthcare sector, underdeveloped nations can deliver universal healthcare to their citizens in an affordable and readily accessible fashion. Such countries can structure their payments systems to encompass all citizens in these nations. Most such countries provide government-funded and sponsored care in public hospital. Hence, the underprivileged and the poor can be enlisted in a mandatory universal care delivery modality by forcibly enrolling them under a universal care costing around $5 monthly once they visit these institutions.
Utilizing Technology to Deliver Quality Universal Healthcare to the Underprivileged in Underdeveloped Nations
Technology has advanced at unprecedented rates over the past century, and even more significant milestones are on the verge of being achieved. Among the sectors that have been substantially boosted by discovery and application of new technologies is the health sector. Health facilities and assistance are now easily accessible. ICT has dramatically promoted medical education by allowing the seamless flow of information from one point to another. For at least a decade now, students have been able access more reliable academic information online, through various electronic libraries, than they were able to access before. Communication between students and their instructors is now cheap and convenient. ICT has therefore significantly improved education quality.
Technological advancement has also improved how data is managed. The collection, storage, access and retrieval of data have been made accessible. Firstly, data can now be stored electronically, saving on space. Notably, as technology advances, more data can be stored on much less physical space than before. Using computerized systems, much of the data can now be accessed or retrieved at the click of a button. Analyses of data can also be done through computer software saving on labor and time while eliminating the risk of human error. Policies made thereof, therefore, have a more significant effect on healthcare as they are based on highly accurate information and are timelier ion nature.
Notably, ICT has also facilitated easier and more efficient management of resources. Automated records are kept in hospital management information systems that account for the movement of funds within the institutions, which also occurs on a much larger scale during the monitoring of health facilities remotely by governments. ICT has also enabled health research to be conducted seamlessly, using cutting-edge technology aiding in essential steps towards the management of problems such as cancer diagnosis and screening, as well as treatment and therapy.
Background of the Study
While technology has advanced steadily in the developed world, such as the Far East, Europe, and the North America, there are still some parts of the world that lag behind. Many developing and underdeveloped nations always have not been able to harness the power of technology to the point where they can fully benefit from them. Most African governments, except South Africa, rely heavily on foreign aid to fulfill their obligations towards their citizens (Chib et al., 2015). It is because they have not been able to generate enough resources on their own to finance government-funded projects and initiatives. Most governments also have massive debts, and negative balances of payments, which negatively affects their ability to obtain resources.
It is also notable that many governments, especially in the developing and underdeveloped, are marred by high levels of corruption. Most governments have a corrupt culture characterized by embezzling and mismanagement of resources, which often prevents citizens from reaping the full benefits of such resources (Smith et al., 2007). As such, most public institutions are weak and are therefore are unable to implement and effect the needed changes and policies for the benefit of the citizens. Resources are also highly unevenly distributed with the disparities between the rich and the weak being huge. As such, there is a minority who can access high-quality health services, while a majority wallow in poverty unable even to live in necessary dignified health conditions. Mostly, such countries need an elaborate payment system that ascertains the poor access quality healthcare at affordable costs; thus, the essence of a universal payment system valued at a meager price.
Statement of the Problem
According to Kirigia and Barry, (2008), 18.8% of all global deaths in 2005 were recorded in the WHO African Region. Most of the deaths (64%) occurred from manageable or curable conditions and diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, diarrheal diseases, tuberculosis, low birth weight, measles, and complications resulting from poor maternal care during childbirth. Kirigia and Barry deduce that one of the most significant problems plaguing the health sector in these economies is the poor planning and implementation/execution of plans and policies. It is notable that there is minimal public participation and there is a weak link between various sectors to facilitate the much-needed resource delivery. Poor public assistance is mainly caused by the high levels of illiteracy and lack of public awareness. Also notable is that there is inadequate and inadequate resource allocation, which ultimately leads to reduced usage of the same. Access to quality healthcare is also notably expensive for most people to afford, which limits their access to these services and notably, culminates in high mortality rates.
Also notable is that the ratio between the population and the available health workers is alarming. Most of these economies do not have enough professionals to handle the high incidence of health problems (Chib et al., 2015). It may be partly due to inadequate or ill-equipped training facilities, or the lack of support of the trained personnel by the health institutions in those areas. There is, for instance, a high rate of emigration of health professionals including doctors and nurses from less developed and underdeveloped nations such as those in Africa, to work in the first world countries where working conditions are better (Blaya et al., 2010).
Rampant corruption also leads to instability of prices and quality of medication and medical technologies, which leads to a 'wide variance in quality and safety' according to Kirigia& Barry (2008). Drug supply systems are also unreliable in these economies making shortages common. Inadequate investment in health and lack of health financing options also leaves a large number of people in underdeveloped nations exposed. Most of these nations do not have insurance schemes that are affordable to a majority of the citizens, leaving the responsibility to the citizens to pay from their treatment in cash. It often leads to inadequate preparation and handling of most health conditions.
Significance of the Study
The condition of healthcare in most underdeveloped nations is deplorable, and there are numerous ways in which technological applications such as ICT could assist to deal with various issues plaguing the sector. The significance of this research project is therefore borne from that reality, whereby multiple ways in which Africans could invest and apply current technological inventions are discussed (Chib et al., 2015). If these technologies are implemented and managed efficiently, they could assist the affected nations in providing solutions for some of their problems. Prominently, this study's backbone rests on proposing an elaborate universal care system that covers all citizens in such countries. Prominently, the system could be structured around a minimal $5 cost monthly. To enroll all citizens, state and local governments in such countries ought to join their citizens when they visit healthcare institutions or through a well laid out enrollment plan.
Notably, the technologies discussed herein are highly context specific. Different techniques are applicable in different areas and to particular ends. For instance, the mobile telephony is very widely used in East African countries such as Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania (Smith et al., 2007). Mobile phones are used to perform functions that would otherwise be performed by other means in other nations. Mobile money transactions are for instance being used by the Kenyan Ministry of Health to expand on the reach of the government-funded National Health Insurance Fund, whereby members can pay for their contributions through mobile money and in small manageable amounts. It has significantly increased the number of people who are now insured by the Fund, thereby improving their access to health services, especially from government-funded medical facilities. This study will also investigate some of the issues that prevent the application and penetration of various essential technologies in underdeveloped nations (Chib et al., 2015). There are, for instance, limited diagnostic facilities for the screening and early detection of cancer, which leads to a high mortality rate for the disease.
This study aims at answering some questions:
What are the problems in the health sectors of developing and underdeveloped nations that could be solved through embracing new technologies, e.g., better information and communication technology (ICT)?
What are the technological strategies that could be applied as solutions to provide better quality and affordable universal healthcare?
What have been the hindrances of the application of these technological strategies? What has prevented the governments of these nations from applying these strategies?
How can the governments of underdeveloped and developing nations go about the application of these strategies despite the hindrances?
Is there evidence that these technological strategies and solutions substantially impact positively on the delivery of services in the health sector?
H0: Underdeveloped and developing nations lag behind in the provision of quality affordable universal care due to slow or lack of embracing ICT applications in the health sector.
H1: Underdeveloped and developing nations provide quality and affordable universal care by embracing ICT applications that suit their unique situations and circumstances notwithstanding their financial situation.
Scope of the study
This study focuses on the effect that technology has had in the health sectors of the developing and underdeveloped nations. It also seeks to investigate the existing problems that can be solved using technological applications, and the technological strategies that should be applied in order to provide solutions to those problems. It also suggests methods in which the developing nations can use the available resources to provide solutions for problems in their unique circumstances. This study is also specific to the circumstances that the nations are in and avoids suggesting solutions based on the effect that certain technologies are having in the developed world. For example, it would be absurd to discuss the possibility of stem cell research in a country where electronic health recording (EHR) has not even been fully embraced.
To investigate what problems are prevalent in health services delivery in underdeveloped nations.
To theorize on the technological applications that can be applied as solutions to these problems.
To examine past use of these technologies in terms of contexts and impact.
To suggest ways in which these technologies can be implemented in the underdeveloped nations.
Theoretical and Conceptual Framework
The term 'underdeveloped nation' refers to any nation that is economically poor in comparison to other nations in the world, has a low level of industrialization and experiences poor utilization of resources. As such, the country lags behind when it comes to technological development and application. Various factors come into play in the attempt to suggest ways in which new technologies can be implemented in these nations. Firstly, the financial position of underdeveloped nations is often a hindrance to technological development. The suggestions offered must therefore be friendly to the nations' financial stat...
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