Digital picture diagnosis saves life of African islanders

Ginnack 22 April 1998 The Times brought a story on two nurses, using a digital camera to take pictures of sick inhabitants of Ginnack, an isolated island, situated on the north bank of the Gambia river. They take the images to the hospital of Banjul, where they are examined by a doctor, who offers advice on the right medication, which should be administered to the patients. Regularly, Ginnack people die from ailments, that easily can be cured with ordinary, frequently used, inexpensive medicine.

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The Times brought a story on two nurses, using a digital camera to take pictures of sick inhabitants of Ginnack, an isolated island, situated on the north bank of the Gambia river. They take the images to the hospital of Banjul, where they are examined by a doctor, who offers advice on the right medication, which should be administered to the patients. Regularly, Ginnack people die from ailments, that easily can be cured with ordinary, frequently used, inexpensive medicine.

Rosemary Sturdy and Marlous Kok practise an elementary but very useful form of telemedicine. Each week, they travel thirty miles on foot between the Ginnack island and Serrakunda to pick up medical supplies. On these occasions, they bring a digital camera with them, in order to take photographs of the inhabitants, which suffer from disease. The images are downloaded from the Agfa ePhoto 1280 to an Acer Travelmate 7100 notebook computer, which is connected to a colour printer.

Once the images produced, they are brought to the hospital in Banjul for examination by the local physician. If further information is requested, he can email one of the digital images to Global Synergy in the United Kingdom to have more detailed advice, offered by a specialist. At the same time, Global Synergy is also occupied with the development of a videoconferencing tool for the training of people over the Internet.

With the right diagnosis at hand, the nurses are able to take the required medication to the people in need, on each of their weekly trips to Ginnack. Thanks to the digital images, most of the islanders can be cured from a distance, simply by analysing their photograph, in order to discover the nature of their illness.


Leslie Versweyveld

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