The Internet and wireless telephones are emerging features in the communication and information environment in nearly every developing country (Digital opportunity Initiative, 2001). In the past two decades, radio and televisions became very prevalent and played significant roles in reproductive health. Now information Communication Technology represents the next significant wave of innovation. It includes ‘mobile web’ Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) and short Message Service (SMS) (WAJU, 2003).
The Internet provides people in otherwise information starved environment with an unparalleled resource and window on the large world. It facilitates interaction between health professionals and consumers, and manages demand for services; enable health organisation and government update information for more quickly for surveillance (SCIPICH, 1999). Gustafon et al (1999) observed that interactive website providing tailored Reproductive Health Information and other services can be effective in helping client manage diseases, access health services or provide assistance in changing behaviour.
How have reproductive health professional in Nigeria embrace information communication Technology? American Nurses Association ANA, 2001 and 2003 noted that information communication Technology which has impacted much in reproductive health indeveloped countries has left their counterpart in Nigeria lagging behind.
Moreso Sayki (2003) advocated information communication technology as a panacea to reduce this huge financial cost of training and retraining trainers among reproductive health professionals (for instance, in life saving skills (LSS)) and maintaining the network of professionals.
This necessitates a vivid assessment of skill capacity of reproductive health professionals in general Hospital, Ikot Ekpene.
- Background of the Study:
One of the most conspicuous challenges of health communication in the 21st century is the advent of Information Communication Technology (ICT). The world is undergoing communication revolution (Jackson and Duffy, 1998). Publications, radio and television are now reaching billions of people around the world in what is increasingly becoming a global electronic Communication village. Millions of households across developing countries suddenly have direct unrestricted access to radio, television and the global system for mobile telecommunication (GSM). Databases have also become accessible via the Internet or on CD – ROM, and may replace libraries, go where no libraries ever existed and modify virtually all aspects of healthcare delivery.
This contemporary access to information has according to Akinumiju and Fabumni (1997) revolutionized the way people communicate forging direct links among groups and individuals on a scale never before possible. For instance, Piotrow et al (1997) reported that doctors in China confused by a dying woman’s illness, posted her clinical manifestations on the Internet putting a general call for appropriate diagnosis to hospitals around the globe. Within the same day, a United States doctor sent the correct diagnosis and eighty other doctors confirmed the diagnosis.
How has this digital divide affected our reproductive health sector? Piotrow et al (1997), observed that access to electronic information is not equal and the gap in access to information between the rich and the poor has widened. Consequently, since those with the greatest need for reproductive health services (especially in rural areas) may have the least access, reproductive health professionals must serve as their advocate to ensure efficient delivery.
Furthermore, many reproductive health programmes depend on accurate information communicated to the public and providers in a sufficiently practical and memorable way that the knowledge will be used when needed. ICT has been noted by Pobjola (1992), to improve access to clinical information and quality of clinical processes by practitioners. It is a viable tool for providers’ knowledge up gradation, quick referral and consulting as well as serves as data bank for reproductive health.
Providing connectivity to fragmented or decentralized health systems, as the case in Nigeria and Akwa Ibom State in particular is cost effective and may significantly improve reproductive health outcomes (DOl, 2001). The ability to communicate quickly and directly by cell phone, email, Internet etc has improved supply and referral systems, (especially emergencies), improved epidemiological monitoring systems and reduce isolation, in addition provide for efficiency, save times of both providers and client, improved access to reliable information and opportunities for Nigerian reproductive health professionals and will help put them at per with their counterparts in the rest of the world.
Thus this research is designed to investigate the information seeking consciousness of reproductive health professionals in General hospital Ikot Ekpene. Besides, attempt is made to assess the Information Communication Technology (ICT) utilization status of these professionals given their background characteristics – remoteness, poor welfare status and poor existing ICT facilities base.
1.2 Problem Statement
Growing evidence demonstrates that ICTs can make significant contribution to reproductive health under the right conditions. Hospitals in Nigeria are increasingly becoming ICT driven and are utilizing certain level of ICT in their operation. And greater access to information and new ideas on reproductive health is inspiring client to ask for and expect more from providers.
The ability of providers to meet these challenges depends on their electronic readiness status. What is the level of awareness/utilization of ICT by reproductive health professionals? What are the information seeking attributes of these professionals?
Thus, this research is envisaged to access the utilization status of ICT by Reproductive Health professionals in General hospital, Ikot Ekpene[email protected][email protected]