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EIFL-PLIP Phase 2 – Replicating Success
Mestia Public Library’s new e-health service combines the Internet, an interactive website and mobile phones to encourage healthy lifestyles in Georgia’s mountainous Svaneti region.
The service is one of 14 winners of an EIFL-Public Library Innovation Programme (PLIP) replication grant. The grants enable public libraries in developing and transition countries to replicate services supported during the first phase of EIFL-PLIP. Mestia Public Library is replicating and adapting the Kenya National Library Service’s e-health corners.
‘We want to replicate this model and create e-health corners in our libraries. What is different in our project is that we will work in the mountains with small communities. Another innovative aspect is that we will use mobile phones to disseminate health information,’ said Ms Tamuna Kakhberidze, coordinator of the new service.
The e-health corners will be equipped with Internet-enabled computers, with free access for community members. The library will develop a special interactive healthy lifestyles website, and doctors will provide a confidential question and answer service to address community members’ personal health issues.
The new service will work through libraries in the city of Mestia and in the mountain villages of Latali, Becho and Hadish. To be sure to reach as many as people as possible, librarians will provide information and mobile phone text messages in two languages: Georgian, the national language, and Svan, the local language.
Background to Libraries and health services cooperation in Upper Svaneti
Distance and difficult terrain mean that communities living in remote communities in the Caucasus mountains of Upper Svaneti in northwestern Georgia have limited access to health services and resources. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has the potential overcome the challenge of reach, but availability of computers is rare, and most villagers do not have ICT skills. However, many villagers do own mobile phones. There are public library services in some villages, but their computers are inadequate and they do not currently sufficient information about local health issues to meet demand, especially in the local language, Svan.
The new service
Mestia Public Library will create e-health corners in the public library in the town of Mestia and in libraries in the three mountain villages of Latali, Hadish and Becho. The e-health corners will be equipped with Internet-enabled computers which communities will be able to use at no charge. The library will create a website focused on healthy lifestyles, and establish a question and answer service for people who need to consult doctors about specific personal health issues. The four libraries will also organize lectures and events and increase their stocks of printed material on serious health issues like cancer, and a variety of local health and hygiene issues. E-health corner users will receive regular health tips on their mobile phones, via SMS, and invitations to the events in the libraries.
The core partnerships are between the four libraries, the hospital in Mestia, and local doctors in Becho, Hadish and Latali. Schools will be invited to run focus groups with pupils to provide information about health issues affecting young people. Mestia Public Library will also work with local government structures to ensure that the new service becomes an integral part of broader regional health strategies. Government agencies, like the National Centre for Disease Control, will provide information about health issues and available services.
Mestia Public Library is replicating and adapting the Kenya National Library Service’s e-health corners. Read more about the KNLS e-health service.