27 May 2015. The HumTech Conference took place from 12 to 14 May in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The conference is a premier event for exchanging information on the role of technology in humanitarian assistance situations. The conference saw a wealth of presentations, ranging from the use of drones to data processing systems for medical purposes, from technology adoption by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to the coordination challenges in Nepal after the earthquake. ESPI director, Peter Hulsroj, made a presentation of ESPI’s Humanitarian Telemedicine activity on the final day of the conference.
Peter Hulsroj started out by making clear that in a globalized information society it is unacceptable that hundreds of thousands die because they cannot get a first, potentially life-saving diagnosis. Yet, this is the situation today. Technology can help overcome this information deficit, as the telemedicine tool can make distance irrelevant. The telemedicine tool can, for instance, connect doctors in industrialised countries with patients in medically underserved communities in rural areas of developing countries.
But also within countries much more can be done. The prevalence of cell phone access even in the most remote locations would allow hotlines to be established to central hubs in metropolitan areas where medical advice can be sought, with the possible inter-locution of the cell phone owner in the village environment.
Peter Hulsroj drew attention to the comprehensive report on the topic available at ESPI Humanitarian Telemedicine Report and to the intention of ESPI to arrange an in-depth conference on the topic, hopefully to be followed by a field trial.
The HumTech presentation can be found here, and a video of the kick-off conference at ESPI here.