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 Table of Contents  
REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 117-121

Digital technology for preventative health care in Myanmar


Institute for Innovative Learning, Mahidol University, Salaya, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand

Date of Web Publication18-Oct-2018

Correspondence Address:
Thasaneeya Ratanaroutai Nopparatjamjomras
Institute for Innovative Learning, Mahidol University, 999 Phutthamonthon 4 Road, Salaya, Nakhon Pathom 73170
Thailand
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/digm.digm_25_18

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  Abstract 


The emerging rapidly developing new technologies bring digital applications into our society. Digital technology had been widely applied to various health-care fields including the area of preventative health care. Digital preventative health care is the provision of health-care services for the prevention of diseases, controlling of disease processes, and other health-care services related to preventative health care by the use of digital technology. It is an essential element in the future development of the health-care environment. This review article highlights the current situation of digital technology used in providing health-care services for disease prevention in Myanmar health-care environment. It also covers the future direction of implementing digital technology in other specific areas of preventative health care in Myanmar designed to provide health-care delivery and services more effectively.

Keywords: Digital technology, Myanmar, preventative health care


How to cite this article:
Hlaing PM, Nopparatjamjomras TR, Nopparatjamjomras S. Digital technology for preventative health care in Myanmar. Digit Med 2018;4:117-21

How to cite this URL:
Hlaing PM, Nopparatjamjomras TR, Nopparatjamjomras S. Digital technology for preventative health care in Myanmar. Digit Med [serial online] 2018 [cited 2018 Dec 14];4:117-21. Available from: http://www.digitmedicine.com/text.asp?2018/4/3/117/243640




  Introduction Top


Preventative health care in Myanmar

The concept of preventative health care is actions designed to prevent and/or control disease occurrences in the people.[1] Preventative health care is a broad concept which mainly relates to the level of health-care prevention and various health-care activities designed to avoid medical interventions. In brief, preventative health-care areas include the provision of public health-care services by assessing the early diagnosis of diseases,[2] by assisting in the delivery of correct treatment,[3] and by providing control and monitoring of any diseases encountered in the patient.[4] In addition, preventative health care involves the delivery of health-care activities within the conduct of medical or biomedical research.[3],[4] The scope for preventative health care covers a variety of health-care services such as promotion, preservation, or restoration of health provided to individuals or communities in society. The health agencies and health-care professionals provide various forms of health-care services to people before diseases occur and/or aim to minimize any distress in people who suffer from these diseases and/or other health problems.[4],[5]

In Myanmar, the Ministry of Health and Sports has the main responsibility for providing health-care services to all citizens living in the country.[6] The Ministry of Defence also has the duty of supporting health-care services to people involved in military activities and remote areas of the country.[7] In addition, national nongovernmental organizations such as Myanmar Maternal and Child Welfare Association and Myanmar Medical Association as well as international nongovernmental organizations such as the World Health Organization and Myanmar Red Cross Society collaborate with the government health agencies to support health-care services.[8],[9] In Myanmar, community-based organizations take responsibility for delivering health-care services to people who live in the rural areas of Myanmar.[10] Of these organizations, the Ministry of Health and Sports and the Ministry of Defence are the governmental organizations which provide public health-care services.

Historically, Myanmar health-care delivery was outlined in the National health policy (NHP) to provide basic health-care services to all citizens in Myanmar. This policy was set out through the command of the Ministry of Health under the direction of the National Health Committee in 1993. The main objective of NHP was “Health for all” designed to raise the level of health-care for people in the country.[8] It was mainly based on a preventative health-care approach to deliver health-care services in Myanmar's community through various health-care activities.[11]


  Digital Technology in Preventative Health Care Top


Digital technology is an advanced technology in which a wide range of electronic devices and software applications can be incorporated to manage information in the form of digital data. Digital technology enables us to store digital data easily and transmit this digital information quickly everywhere.[12],[13] Various electronic devices such as computers, tablets, mobile phones, and other digital devices are utilized to process the digital data. Digital technology includes digitally mediated activities such as digital media tools, programming tools, web tools, and software applications with or without the Internet access through those digital devices.[14] Today, digital technology is widely utilized in various disciplines such as the economic sector, education sector, health sector, and technology sector to provide the specific tasks and functions.[13],[15],[16]

Digital technology has been used to support basic and advanced medical sciences by integrating with other multidisciplinary sciences. Digital technology used to update the practice of medicine is called digital medicine.[17],[18],[19] Digital medicine can promote preventative health care by providing advanced health and medical information.[16],[17] The advantages of using digital medicine in the health-care environment are as follows:

  1. Facilitating disease prevention by identifying the preexisting health problems[20]
  2. Enhancing the monitoring and control of diseases[16]
  3. Changing health behaviors to promote healthy lifestyles.[21]


Therefore, health-care professionals utilize digital medicine within various forms of health applications and/or medical devices/tools specifically for preventative health care.[19],[22]

Today, there is increasing concern about patient safety in medical practice. It is challenging for health-care professionals to continue to provide effective public health care.[23],[24] To address this problem, digital technology is applied in medical training to produce the efficient health-care professionals needed for the future.[25] The educational objective of utilizing technology is to encourage fundamental knowledge and skills' acquisition and other professional skills among health-care professionals.[23]


  Myanmar Policy About Using Digital Technology in Preventative Health Care Top


In 2013, the government of Myanmar developed a new strategic plan to establish the digitalization of government systems. It started to implement an electronic government system using digital technology.[26],[27] The Ministry of Transport and Communications had the responsibility to develop information and communication technology in Myanmar. In the Myanmar information and communication technology master plan (2016–2020), digital technology will be used in government sectors, community and society sectors, education and learning sectors, as well as health-care and welfare sectors.[28],[29] Therefore, technology is also steadily contributing to the provision of health-care delivery and services in the Myanmar health-care environment.[6] In addition, according to the health statistical data, there are increases in the percentage of Myanmar people who suffer from communicable and noncommunicable diseases as a result of an improving aging population, deficiencies in health-care services, and a lack of health-care facilities in Myanmar.[6],[9],[11] To enhance health-care services in Myanmar, the Myanmar National Health Plan (2017–2021) was published under the mandate of the Ministry of Health and Sports in 2016. The main goal was to provide a basic essential package of health services to citizens by 2020.[6] Basic essential health-care service is the provision of health-care services at minimal cost delivered effectively to people who live in the remote and urban areas. It encourages the use of technology in the health-care environment in Myanmar.[11] According to the report of the Myanmar health system review, telecommunication facilities such as internet and e-mail service were first introduced to government agencies including public general hospitals in 2002.[8]

A few studies reported on the use of digital technology in the area of preventative health-care services in Myanmar. In 2015, one mobile company, namely, Ooredoo Myanmar, partnered with an international nongovernment organization and conducted a case study.[30] The case report intended to study the effect of using digital software applications in providing health-care services for pregnant women. In this case report, the researchers uploaded the digital software application onto the mobile phone. The features of this application were designed to provide maternal and child health care to the women during their pregnancy and for 3 years after giving birth. During the study, the researchers surveyed people who used this application to improve self-awareness of their health-care status. The name of this application was “maymay,” which is translated as “mother” in English language. The health information was taken from the maternal health content of mobile alliance for maternal action. It was developed by health experts and tested in the market free of charge. This case study reported on the advantages of using digital technology in preventative health care for Myanmar's pregnant women.

In addition, it was reported that paper-based medical records have some limitations in providing health-care services effectively to meet the demand of health-care providers' needs and result in difficulties in communication, especially in the developing countries.[31] Digital technology used to record patient health-care data can assist effective health-care services through electronic medical records (EMRs). Today, EMRs play an important role in providing a continuum of care for patients. Implementing EMRs can help to improve the efficiency and quality of patient care.[32] In 2015, a qualitative study was conducted on users' perceptions of EMRs within one international nongovernment organization in Myanmar.[33] In Myanmar health-care services, health-care data has been recorded using paper-based techniques in almost of the government and nongovernment health agencies except for a few private areas. In this study, the results showed the advantages of EMRs in the preventative health-care areas such as delivering health-care information correctly and rapidly to provide effective health-care services to the people. This study was also an early attempt to assess the perception of health-care providers on the use of EMRs in Myanmar.

In addition, a review paper investigated the effects of using digital games on older adults's active aging in Myanmar. This study reported that digital games had the potential to improve physical, social, and cognitive activities in Myanmar older adults for strengthening and maintaining their health.[34] Those previous studies pointed to the possibilities of improving health-care services and the health-care environment using the digital technology in Myanmar.

Health-care professionals need to be qualified in their professional skills to provide effective health-care services with the evolution of advanced medicine and technology. The world federation of medical education (WFME) suggested that medical doctors play an important role in providing health-care services effectively. Therefore, Myanmar medical universities started to reform their medical education to meet the global standards of the WFME. In 2016, the central committee of integrated curriculum development under the Ministry of Health and Sports reviewed and updated the undergraduate medical curriculum for Myanmar medical universities.[35] One study reported that medical educators in Myanmar should be concerned about the development of new technology and should be able to use the technology for both teaching medical students and enabling practicing medical doctors to be effective and efficient.[36]


  Future Directions of Digital Technology for Preventative Health Care Top


Today, digital technology plays an increasingly important role in delivering public health-care services. Digital technologies are becoming important resources for preventative health-care services.[37] To have a better understanding and greater insight into the effectiveness of using digital technology in the preventative health-care area, there is still an ongoing process to develop new digital technologies for providing health-care services. There are some concerns about the challenges of using digital technology in the health-care environment in society.[16],[38] In the developed countries, digital technology has been increasingly applied in the health-care environment.[3],[33],[37] For example, various forms of digital tools and applications were used in the specific area of disease prevention, disease control, disease eradication, disease monitoring, health information, and health promotion and education. It has been clearly shown that digital technology could bring many benefits for the public in the domain of preventative health-care services.[3],[22]

Myanmar health-care statistical data indicate that acute and chronic communicable diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome are encountered in the Myanmar's population.[11] In addition, noncommunicable diseases such as heart, cancer, and mental problems are common diseases because of the aging population, lack of health-care facilities, and health-care services in Myanmar.[9],[11] Eventually, the use of digital technology might play a major role in preventative health-care services in Myanmar.[39] Aung Than Batu proposed the possible uses of telemedicine in Myanmar health-care services and the advantages of using digital technology in the health-care providers and patients.[36]

Telemedicine facilitates distance learning, remotely enabling medical practice and the provision of health care. The digital technology used in telemedicine provides various health-care services such as diagnosis and treatment of diseases, consultation for health problems, as well as education and transfer of data among medical professionals and/or the patients.[40] There are various issues involved in the use of digital technology in the Myanmar health-care environment, such as the lack of infrastructure and advanced facilities as well as the qualities of health-care professionals responsible for providing health-care delivery and services effectively.[9],[41] Finally, Myanmar needs to implement the use of digital technology in the health-care environment in areas such as health-care services, health-care promotion, health-care education, and training in the future.


  Conclusion Top


Preventative health care is including in Myanmar's priority list to provide better health-care services to the people. Digital technology is also becoming an essential part to achieve in the sustainable development of Myanmar health-care services. Therefore, Myanmar health-care providers will apply the digital technology for better preventative health care in Myanmar.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
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