Ocean Medicine Foundation Overview
The Ocean Medicine Foundation’ programs provide island healthcare professionals with access to current evidence-based medical information and the training on how to use them effectively. The result is a significant improvement in the health and healthcare of children and adults in developing island nations. Because islands frequently are stepping stones in the global spread of infectious disease and epidemics, improving the health of island residents is a critical global health issue.
The Challenge: Prohibitive costs prevent access to needed medical information.
Island residents have lower standards of living, shorter life expectancies, and more chronic illnesses than their counterparts in mainland countries. Infectious diseases such as malaria, dengue, AIDS and parasitic infections abound, and epidemics spread rapidly in these small isolated populations, and from these islands to mainland nations. Most island medical providers lack access to current medical information because of the prohibitive cost of bringing this information to these isolated islands, which significantly compounds the problem. Island physicians are well trained, but their ability to treat patients successfully is jeopardized by having medical information that is years out of date.
The Ocean Medicine Foundation provides reliable, current medical information about prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and containment in an electronic format, which can be accessed on state-of-the art mobile technology, anywhere island nation physicians deliver care. When purchased, these medical databases can cost thousands of dollars. We’ve been very fortunate that the creators of these databases, like Epocrates and the Medical Letter have donated the use of these tools for our island sites. Other donations have enabled the Foundation to provide island physicians with the necessary electronic technology and on-island training to effectively use these devices and databases. The foundation is partnered with a network of medical schools, specialists, and scientists across the United States, who provide critical information and medical expertise to island health professionals. We collaborate with organizations that focus on enhancing local healthcare capacity, such as the World Health organization (WHO), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).
Ongoing Support: Training and professional development is critical.
Technology is improving continually and the medical knowledge base constantly is changing and growing. Regular in-person or Skype-based training sessions are crucial to supporting physicians’ effective use of these medical databases and devices in their daily practice of medicine. We provide such training directly, as well as training on-island “super users” who can train and support others in turn, when questions or problems arise.
Where We Work: Developing island nations in the Pacific and Caribbean
The Ocean Medicine Foundation currently works on numerous islands throughout the Pacific and Caribbean, including Yap, Pohnpei, Palau, and Haiti.