Misdiagnosis of parasitic infections remains a challenge in the Philippines, particularly in remote areas where medical technologists (MTs) may lack capacity on diagnostic parasitology. This is further complicated by the lack of a formal referral system where MTs can verify their diagnosis. Misdiagnosis results to non-treatment of patients, thereby contributing to continuing morbidity and infection transmission. Accurate and timely diagnosis of parasitic infections is essential to provide appropriate treatment, as well as to generate accurate data to support advocacy and policy formulation for the control and prevention of parasitic infections.
To address this challenge, a team from the College of Public Health and the National Telehealth Center in the University of the Philippines (UP) Manila, led by Dr. Vicente Belizario, Jr., developed and tested the Medical Teleparasitology (MTP) system through the grant provided by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development.
MTP uses information and communications technology (ICT) to provide a referral mechanism that links MTs in peripheral laboratories to a pool of expert diagnostic parasitologists. Through the MTP, the MTs registered in the system can send the digital image of the parasite and their initial diagnosis which are then verified by expert diagnostic parasitologists within 24 hours. Digital images of the parasites are stored in the image bank which can be accessed by MTs for future reference. MTs in the peripheral laboratories also send monthly reports of parasitic infections they have diagnosed.
Monthly reports are fed into a database which can generate the distribution of parasitic infections reported and of the laboratory and personnel capacity. These, in turn, may help inform strategies for prevention and control of parasitic infections. Enrolled users also have access to the Parasitology Forum, an online forum where users can discuss topics relevant to parasitology. Through these, MTP is able to support MTs in their critical role of providing accurate and timely diagnosis of parasitic infections.
The MTP system is currently implemented in Cordillera, Zamboanga, and Davao Regions. These were made possible through the support of the Department of Health-Regional Offices and other partners, such as the Saint Louis University-School of Medicine.
Written by Catherine Joy C. Dimailig
Created: 05 September 2018