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19/09/2023

Vall d’Hebron together with 12 global institutions launches a Wikipedia for tropical diseases WikiTropica

Dra. Maria Espiau

Dra. Maria Espiau.

19/09/2023

The platform offers health workers the latest information on infectious and tropical diseases and also serves as a training tool.

Vall d’Hebron is launching WikiTropica, a project led by the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) in Antwerp (Belgium), together with Indonesian, Cambodian and European partners. WikiTropica offers health workers the latest information on infectious and tropical diseases to enable accurate diagnoses. This is particularly crucial in low- and middle-income countries with a high disease burden and limited resources. The platform not only provides essential health insights but also serves as a training tool.

Distinguishing between patients in need of urgent medical care and those who are not is one of the most important tasks for healthcare providers. WikiTropica serves as a guiding light to solve these diagnostic challenges in the field. Additionally, it functions as an e-learning tool. “By utilising interactive clinical cases, healthcare providers and students immerse themselves in diagnosing and understanding symptoms and signs of tropical diseases and prescribing medication, mirroring the complexities of real-life medical practice in tropical settings”, explains Dr. María Espiau, pediatrician at the Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Immunodeficiencies Unit at Vall d’Hebron University Hospital and researcher at the Infection and Immunity in Pediatric Patients at Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR). Dr. Espiau leads this project from Vall d'Hebron, a center that participates in the design, development and review of clinical cases in the field of pediatric infections.

In the last days, WikiTropica has been launched in Indonesia. The meeting has been a space for presentation and review of the clinical cases that are available on the platform, where Dr. Espiau has focused especially on explaining the use of pediatric clinical cases in different contexts.

Empowering healthcare and education

WikiTropica is based on the importance of accurate diagnosis for infectious and tropical diseases. According to Dr Steven Van Den Broucke, physician at ITM, “incorrect diagnoses lead to unnecessary medical interventions. With WikiTropica, our goal is to guide healthcare providers and students through diagnostic challenges in a structured and rational manner. This is especially vital in resource-poor situations, where excessive medical interventions are not an option".

But the project goes beyond being merely a diagnostic tool; it also serves as an educational resource. With the increasing number of outbreaks of infectious diseases and zoonoses and the growing demand for additional health workers in Southeast Asia and the Global South, the platform plays a crucial role in training healthcare providers and students. It accomplishes this by simulating real-life diagnostic challenges, thereby preparing them for the field. In essence, the platform not only helps address the existing health challenges but also contributes to building a well-trained healthcare workforce capable of effectively combatting these challenges.

WikiTropica is a valuable resource for Indonesia, catering to the demands of hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals and medical students that find a challenge in accessing a good learning online platform. Apart from support in clinical decision making, WikiTropica offers a wide range of electronic case studies with a primary focus on tropical medicine. According to Dr. E. Elsa Herdiana Murhandarwati from the Centre for Tropical Medicine of Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), all consortium members are on the same page to offer an accessible educational platform for individuals involved in tropical medicine, ensuring widespread access to vital information in this field.

HITIHE: Collaboration for enhanced healthcare

WikiTropica is part of HITIHE (Health Information and Technology for Improved Health Education in Southeast Asia), an Erasmus+ capacity building project. HITIHE encourages collaboration by facilitating the sharing of resources and tools among healthcare workers, academic staff and health librarians. This collaborative network fosters a community of health experts, thereby paving the way for improved health education and healthcare quality in Southeast Asia.

HITIHE is a collaboration involving several higher education institutes in Belgium (ITM), Cambodia (Institute of Technology Cambodia, University of Health Sciences, National Institute of Public Health), Indonesia (Universitas Gadjah Mada and Universitas Sebelas Maret), Spain (Sant Joan de Déu, Vall d'Hebron, ISGLOBAL) and the Netherlands (Maastricht University). The project has been made possible through the support of the European Union's Erasmus+ Programme and the Directorate-General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid (DGD) of the Belgian Government.

By utilising interactive clinical cases, healthcare providers and students immerse themselves in diagnosing and understanding symptoms and signs of tropical diseases.

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