Using Information Technology to Spread Awareness about Communicable Diseases

Using Information Technology to Spread Awareness about Communicable Diseases

Twiesha Vachhrajani (University at Buffalo, USA), Lavanya Rao (Rice University, USA) and H. R. Rao (University at Buffalo, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6260-5.ch013
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Abstract

Over time, changes in lifestyles, surroundings, and presence of parasites in the developed and developing world has resulted in new strains of various communicable diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, etc. Even though the global average of diseases may be quite low, the concentration in certain countries is much higher. In developed countries, information technology has proved to be an indispensable tool to spread awareness regarding these communicable diseases; however, most developing countries lack the infrastructure needed to use these same resources to educate people about the prevention, symptoms, and treatment available. This chapter makes the following contributions: first, it outlines some of the critical challenges regarding the spread of communicable diseases. It then identifies and summarizes the various information systems strategies used in developed and developing countries. The conclusion ties these together and offers suggestions to further curb the spread of communicable diseases in developing countries.
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Challenges Against Curbing The Spread Of Communicable Diseases

This section will discuss the various challenges faced in the fight against the spread of communicable diseases. We focus on three main challenges: Campaigns and funding; education and the spread of awareness, and the availability of medications.

Campaigns and Funding

One of the challenges that disease prevention campaigns often face is lack of funding. These campaigns rely predominantly on international donations and trust funds, which are vulnerable to ‘donor fatigue’ and the global economy. Many donor agencies may target to donate a certain amount, but cannot raise the funds to do so. For example, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria pledged $10 billion a year when it first started up, but has since then only delivered $3 billion a year. Most US based charities have decreased their funds by at least 3% since 2007, and most European charities have cut down funding about 7% since 2006 (Padma, 2010). All this funding that is being received is from developed countries, as developing countries themselves have failed to keep up the funding to their AIDS programs. In 2001, 52 African countries pledged to allocate 15% of their national budgets for health, but thus far only 6 are on track. The lack of the money to be invested is leading to watered down campaigns that cannot support their expenditure and do not possess the surplus money they need in order to reach out to communities.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Misinformation: Misinformation is false or inaccurate information that is spread unintentionally.

Spreading Awareness: To widely distribute knowledge about a certain topic with the aim of reaching the largest number of people possible.

Communicable Diseases: An illness due to a specific infectious agent or its toxic products that arises through transmission of that agent or its products from an infected person, animal or inanimate reservoir to a susceptible host; either directly or indirectly through an intermediate plant or animal host, vector or the inanimate environment. (Synonym: infectious disease).

Value Chain: A value chain is the whole series of activities that create and build value at every step.

Social media: Social media is the collective of online communications channels dedicated to community-based input, interaction, content-sharing and collaboration. Websites and applications dedicated to forums, microblogging, social networking, social bookmarking, social curation, and wikis are among the different types of social media.

Critical Challenges: Issues of utmost important that need to be addressed to ensure the smooth running of any implemented program.

Information technology (IT): IT (information technology) is a term that encompasses all forms of technology used to create, store, exchange, and use information in its various forms (business data, voice conversations, still images, motion pictures, multimedia presentations, and other forms, including those not yet conceived).

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