I Am Wired, Ending Violence.
Jocelyn Ban, Production and Design Officer
New technologies can be valuable tools for providing health services, promoting social change, and advancing sexual rights. Electronic health records make the delivery of health services more efficient and improve the health care response for people who have experienced violence. Online courses foster learning and provide people in low-resource settings with the necessary information and tools. Mobile technologies provide platforms for healthcare delivery, education, and prevention.
As a recognized leader in the international movement to ensure access to health care as a human right, IPPF/WHR and our network of Member Associations are embracing these technologies to provide services to prevent and detect violence against women. In doing so, we ensure women are receiving the best possible care and the full range of services they need.
Health information systems are rarely discussed in the context of providing adequate medical and psychological services to survivors of gender-based violence (GBV). Yet, strong systems are a critical component in ensuring the provision of high-quality health services. Fifteen of our partners in the region have implemented electronic health records. This provides many benefits, and one is to ensure that GBV screening, counseling, and referral services happen seamlessly in the clinical setting.
In Colombia, Profamilia has implemented electronic health records in 21 of their 32 clinics. GBV screening is automated so that all new clients are screened and returning clients are rescreened after a specified length of time. In addition to streamlining GBV screening, the technology gives suggestions for how to discuss a pregnancy test, determine if a patient requires psychiatric assessment, and determine legal actions needed, such as reporting an act of violence. These systems help ensure that the provision of sexual and reproductive health services take into account the specific circumstances and needs of each client.
We’re also embracing new technologies that facilitate an exchange of experiences and knowledge between organizations, regardless of their geographic location. Recently, we coordinated a training for 170 staff members and health providers at our local partners in the Caribbean. The workshop used an online course on GBV screening and disclosure developed by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, our Member Association in the United States. This type of knowledge exchange among the members of our network yields real results. In 2011, our Member Associations offered over 315,000 GBV-related services.
We’re also working to improve health care delivery through the use of mobile phones. Our Member Association in Peru, INPPARES, is integrating software and health services through a SMS messaging pilot program. The aim is to increase access to medical advice and information that will improve a patient’s health and quality of life. Currently, the free and open source messaging service sends clients confirmations and reminders of medical appointments and availability of lab test results. The messaging service has potential to expand and provide two-way communication and monitoring for women with a high-risk pregnancy or history of experiencing violence.
Technology has changed many areas of our work over the last 60 years. We will continue to innovate and adapt current technologies until we succeed in bringing violence against women and girls to an end.