Assessing the Potential Needs for Telehealth in Papua New Guinea (PNG)
Thesis DisciplineHealth Sciences
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Health Sciences
Papua New Guinea has the highest infant and maternal morbidity and mortality rates in the Western Pacific Regions and 50% of hospital admissions are from vaccine preventable diseases. About 85% of 6 million inhabitants live in rural PNG where basic services are lacking or non-existent. Difficulties such as lack of infrastructures like road network and communication, geographical barriers like big mountain ranges, large rivers and swamps, shortage of skilled health professionals and higher concentration of health workers in cities pose great challenges in delivering health services effectively across the country. Telehealth may play an important role in reaching health services to the underserved population in PNG. As part of this study, it is essential to assess the potential of telehealth to enhance the delivery of health services. Specifically, this research aims to report the knowledge, attitudes and skills towards information and communication technology of health care providers in PNG. The study used a cross sectional method of health professionals working at the time of the survey. It collected 174 questionnaires from four hospitals and used SPSS (version17.0) to analyse the data. The results showed that younger male physicians, paramedics, those with gadgets, higher educational qualifications and exposed to ICT resources possess better knowledge and skills than female, older age group and those without gadgets or under exposed to ICT. Currently, the health care professionals in general have leap frogged the technology by focusing on handheld devices such as cell phones rather than landlines. This represents scope for growth and willingness by health workers to adopt and expand telehealth in PNG.