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The "e-well" : ICT-enabled integrated, multisectorial development of rural areas in the least developed countries

mardi 28 octobre 2003, par Geissbuhler Antoine

  • Prof. Antoine GEISSBUHLER, MD
  • Head, Service of Medical Informatics
  • Geneva University Hospitals
  • 24, rue Micheli-du-Crest, 1211 Genève 4
  • tel. : +41 22 372 62 01
  • fax : +41 22 372 62 55
  • e-mail :


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ICT has the potential to improve the quality and efficiency of cooperation and development efforts. However, the risk of ICT-enabled development projects is to further the digital divide between urban and rural areas. It is therefore crucial to involve rural areas early in these efforts, to make sure that these specific needs are addressed in national projects.

In our experience in the deployment of telemedicine applications in rural Mali as a component of the national telemedicine network, one of the key challenges is the economic sustainability of such technologies. Sustainability can be improved through the potentiation of simultaneous development activities in multiple sectors (education, health, economy, culture), enabled by an internet-connected telecentre, the " e-well ". This requires a significant effort, geographically-focused but involving most of the stakeholders of the community, in order to reach a significant increase in development, compatible with long-term sustainability of the process and results.

Key aspects of the " e-well " project :

  • Evaluation of the impact and sustainability of integrated, multisectorial approaches to the development of rural areas in the least advanced countries. The development approaches include, but are note limited to, the usage of multi-purpose telecentres and the formalization and publication of local, collective knowledge.
  • Reduction of the Digital Divide, particularly obvious in rural areas of developing countries.
  • Focus on sustainability through the potentiation of simultaneous development activities in multiple sectors (education, health, economy, culture) based on the assessment of local needs.

The " e-well " project plans to include 6 different sites with four-year development plans, and various coordination, evaluation and sharing activities between the local coordinators of each site. The project is designed to run over 7 years (2004-2010), for a total budget of €6’500’000, under the coordination of the AGENTIS, a UNITAR agency dedicated to exploit the potential of information and communication technologies for development and social initiatives.

Curriculum Vitae

Antoine Geissbuhler is a Professor of Medical Informatics at Geneva University School of Medicine, and Director of the Division of the Medical Informatics at Geneva University Hospitals.

A Philips European Young Scientist first award laureate, he graduated from Geneva University School of Medicine in 1991 and received his doctorate for work on tri-dimensional reconstruction of positron emission tomography images. He then trained in internal medicine at Geneva University Hospitals under the direction of Prof. Francis Waldvogel. After a post-doctoral fellowship in medical informatics at the University of Pittsburgh and Vanderbilt University, he became associate professor of biomedical informatics and vice-chairman of the Division of Biomedical Informatics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, under the mentorship of Prof. Randolph Miller and Prof. William Stead, working primarily on the development of clinical information systems and knowledge-management tools. In 1999, he returned to Geneva to head the Division of Medical Informatics in Geneva University Hospitals and School of Medicine, following in the steps of Prof. Jean-Raoul Scherrer who founded this world-renowned group.

His current research focuses on the development of innovative computer-based tools for improving the quality and efficiency of care processes, at the local level of the hospital, the regional level of a community healthcare informatics network, and at the global level with the development of a south-south telemedicine network in Western Africa.

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