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  Medics without Borders  
 

ZAKARIA ZAINAL

KATHMANDU, May 13: With Web 2.0-which encourages the use of wikis and mass collaboration-taking the world by storm, Nepali medical group Nyaya Health has decided to climb on board 2.0 and has in the process become the first medical organization in Nepal to make use of this extremely versatile platform. The health organization embraced wiki technology because it felt that using wiki would help facilitate the organization´s collaborations with others within the field of global health delivery.

At wiki.nyayahealth.org, Nyaya Health publishes all its protocols and operation manuals, ranging from its budgetary data to clinical operations, according to director of communications Sushant Wagley. To his knowledge, his team is the first Nepali organization to make use of such an open-source approach in medical health.

“By posting all of our data and protocols online in a rapidly editable format, the wiki gives all members of the Nyaya team quick and easy access to all organizational information and documents,” he says. The wiki has become a critical aspect of the administration and daily management of Nyaya Health.

A wiki, which is a Hawaiian word for fast, is a rapidly-editable webpage that helps multiple authors to share documents and data quickly. For example, if there are updates to Nyaya´s clinical protocol page, any Nyaya member can contribute new information to that page for others around the world to view and comment on.

Nyaya Health, which is based in the far-western region of Achham, aims to develop a scalable model of healthcare delivery in this area that has little or no resources, according to director of operations Ryan Schwarz.

“The use of the wiki ensures critical feedback of our work from the medical community,” he says, “and is also encouraging dialogue between us and the rest of the global health community on how to run a healthcare system in a resource-deprived areas like Achham.”

Since Nyaya is based in such a resource-deprived region, it would stand to reason that the organization has had to overcome much odds, such as having to depend on a far-from- reliable power source to post up-to-date information for their readers. Schwarz concedes that it´s not been easy, but he says that it´s not been the pits either.

“Our internet access --whenever we have power-- is fairly reliable, and while the net is at times slow here, we can easily use the wiki site,” he says.

Other problems-- such as equipping the organization´s staff with basic computer literacy skills--have also had to be overcome by some of the Nyaya staff; but because Wiki technology is so user-friendly and so easy to work with, once users learn the basics, says Schwarz, the users are mostly doing fine.

The wiki site has brought about several benefits to Nyaya Health. In particular, the organization has been able to use the long tail of the internet to get donations for the organization. Making use of the wiki site has been “a very effective strategy” says Wagley.

And in this open-source world of 2.0, the quid pro quo nature of exchanging information for donation is not lost on him. “We know that the ability to offer supporters information through photos and stories online has been one of the main reasons that people continue to support our work,” the student of medicine and public health at Brown University says.

 
Published on 2009-05-13 09:34:21
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