God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Inhumanity of systems

“The system does not allow for it” – how often have you heard this answer when trying to change or streamline something at a customer care center or at a counter of a major airline or company. It seems to me, that the more we try to perfect the systems to run and organize our lives in society the more we are giving away this little quench of humanity making companies, city administrations, airline companies and in general any entity dealing with clients or customers on a bigger scale.
Systems should be there to serve people, especially computer programs are invented to make life easier but in reality, they are starting to complicate things. Living in South Africa, I am sure most of my fellow comrades will have had run ins with Telkom, the SABC or even the traffic department because payments are not registered properly and the helpless and mostly clueless customer care agent can only try to calm down the customer while the system is the person in question hunting down without mercy or relief up to the debt collectors letters without having the possibility to stop the nonsense.

I guess we also have to take care that our systems in church or an NGO does not become the perfect battle ground for inhumane systems and that we strive the balance between work easier done and having the chance to show that we as human beings still deal with human beings.  I remember a diplomat getting into a court battle at home, because the church system of taxation didn’t recognize him being abroad for some years but initiated at the end  a legal battle because the system did not allow for being abroad a longer time. Obviously this harmed his relationship with the respective church quite a bit.

I guess to counter the computerization of our lives we have to escape the idea to connect everything we are doing, from work via fitness via eating habits via social media with a digital system. I know people who run around the kitchen table just to have the magic number of steps given by their fitness wristband computer.

To remain human we must de-computerize our life where our personal habits become prescribed by a brainless micro-chip. There is indeed more than ever the need for an extended ethics of computer use and digitization of our lives. This besides the fact that such systems are indeed dangerous for our personal freedom and all the civil rights people so hard-fought for… 1984 from G. Orwell is starting to become more reality than we as normal citizens are aware of.

And so, while still fighting already paid traffic fines I will continue to think how I can balance better my personal freedom versus a digital world promising convenience of life without telling the whole story.

Filed under: Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , ,

POZ magazine: Internet based HIV care

A group of HIV-positive people who received their health care via the Internet from a Barcelona HIV clinic felt that their care was comparable with—and potentially superior to—standard in-person care. These findings, published January 21 in the online journal PLoS One and reported March 21 on the website Computerworld, could offer hope to select patients in rural settings who must often travel great distances to receive specialty HIV care. By necessity, providers in resource-poor nations have been quick to adopt electronic communications as ways to provide health care. In countries where people are sometimes more likely to have access to a cell phone than running water or transportation, and where they must sometimes travel 100 miles or more to see a doctor, “e-medicine” has significantly expanded the reach of traditional health care.
Developed countries, including the United States, have been much slower to adopt these new technologies, partially because of concerns that e-medicine would result in poorer care, along with legal concerns about patient privacy. Recent positive experiences with using the Internet and telephones to extend and improve care for people with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, are beginning to tear down the walls that have kept e-medicine from wider implementation.
To determine whether e-medicine could be used in caring for people with HIV, Agathe León, MD, from the University of Barcelona, in Spain, and her colleagues set up a virtual hospital system in 2005 to help streamline care for patients in their HIV clinic. During the first two years of operation, León’s team tested its Internet-based system involving 83 HIV-positive people who were in stable health and had CD4s over 250. The study did not require participants to have an undetectable viral load or to be on antiretroviral (ARV) therapy—though about half were. All participants had a home computer and broadband Internet access.
Over the first year of the study, half of the group received their HIV care, pharmacy consultations, psychological care and appointments with social workers over the computer, while the other half received traditional in-person service. After one year, the groups switched their mode of receiving care. Participants went into local laboratories for any necessary lab work.

León’s team conducted detailed surveys of the participants throughout the study to assess their satisfaction with the care, their psychological health and their quality of life. Each participant’s CD4 count and viral loads were also recorded.
León and her colleagues found that patient satisfaction was high and that overall health and well-being—including CD4 counts and viral loads—were no different between those receiving care through the virtual hospital and those being seen at the clinic. This held true despite the facts that 7 percent started antiretroviral (ARV) therapy during the course of the study and 28 percent switched therapy. In fact, 85 percent reported that the Internet-based system actually made it easier for them to access the care they needed from their providers.
León reported that 200 people with HIV have now been followed through the virtual hospital.
“This program allows patients to continue their treatment without altering their routine. Medication is sent to their home, or other locations specified by the patient,” representatives for León’s clinic stated. “Telemedicine is emerging as a service appropriate for this treatment, and [the virtual hospital] as a safe and effective tool.”
It remains to be seen whether, or how, systems like these could be used with difficult-to-reach populations such as those with less access to modern technology, but experiments to test this are ongoing, especially in rural settings where access to quality health care is more challenging for people with HIV and other chronic illnesses.

Source:  http://www.poz.com/articles/hiv_emedicine_internet_761_20118.shtml

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HIV Treatment, Medical and Research, , , , , , , , ,

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