Ulaanbaatar and Umnugobi residents benefited from early health screenings

A business meeting with the overseas Ambassadors to Mongolia to discuss introduction and usage of mobile health technologies for early health screening and diagnosis especially for remote, migrant and disadvantaged populations was held on 2 February in Ulaanbaatar. The Ministry of Health, WHO and Czech Embassy jointly organized the meeting to present the findings and the results of the "Introduction of mobile health technologies at the primary health care and community levels in Mongolia" project successfully conducted by the Ministry of Health and WHO with the financial support of 400 million Won or 300 thousand USD from the Korean Foundation for International Health and the Community Chest of Korea NGO.

The pilot project was implemented from 1 January 2016 through 31 January 2017 within the framework of the “Strengthening sub-national health systems”, an umbrella programme of WHO in Mongolia. The m-Health project delivered integrated health screenings for communicable and non-communicable diseases to 14242 residents in three pilot sites in Umnugobi aimag and two pilot sites in Songino-Khairkhan district of Ulaanbaatar helping many people to prevent illnesses or identify progressing diseases and take care of them early.

Currently cardio-vascular diseases, cancers and injuries are number one reasons of pre-mature mortality in the country. A spread of TB and sexually transmitted diseases also present a public health concern in Mongolia.

The Minister of Health of Mongolia, A.Tsogtsetseg, who chaired the meeting together with H.E. Ambassador of Czech Republic, Mrs Ivana Grolova, has pointed at numerous advantages of mobile health technologies in provision of health services in Mongolia. “In such a territorially vast country as Mongolia with unevenly spread population where people, especially in the remote countryside, live quite far from points of health care, advantages of integrated screenings delivered via m-Health technologies are apparent, especially given the affordability of such technologies these days,” said Dr Tsogtsetseg calling upon the Ambassadors to support Mongolia in expanding m-Health and delivering integrated health screenings to more and more people, thus making a primary emphasis on disease prevention. Dr Tsogtsetseg stressed an importance of adoption of the State Policy on Health by Mongolia’s Parliament last January. The Minister noted that the new Policy maps out the ten-years-long vision and development of the country’s health sector, prioritizing needs-based health care delivery, emphasis on disease prevention, evidence-based diagnosis, introduction of new technologies and sustainable health financing schemes, all geared towards increasing an average lifespan of a Mongolian person.

At the meeting, Dr Narantya Jadambaa, an Officer-in-Charge of WHO Representative’s Office in Mongolia made a presentation about the project that is being implemented with the aim of “leaving no one behind”, a WHO-promoted principle of universal health care and informed that the KOFIH decided to continue to support the expansion of the integrated health screenings to other four provinces of Mongolia and two districts of Ulaanbaatar.

The integrated screening includes an early screening for such communicable diseases as hepatitis B and C, syphilis and tuberculosis and non-communicable diseases as cardio-vascular diseases, hypertension, diabetes and others. Portable Wi-Fi ready electrocardiogram equipment, abdominal ultrasound and blood pressure measurement devices, Gene-Expert and rapid testers for communicable diseases were delivered to the pilot sites along with two UAZ Patriot Russian-made jeeps for delivering health screenings. Wi-Fi ready electronic tablets were also distributed for recording health data of each patient undergoing a health screening. The records will set a basis for a personal health registry of patients and will be stored in Mongolia’s national health database.

Professor Young Moon Chae, a KOICA advisor, has presented the Visiting Home Service mobile application developed by him with a team of specialists from the Centre for Health Development, as an easy registry of home visits and patients' health data. The application is a part of the larger WHO-supported improvement of H-info, the national health information system. “The VHS application and the Heartscore software are essential in data gathering, recording, analysis and further usage by the Soum Health Centres and Family Health Centres for planning, treatment, referral and management decision making,” said professor Chae who introduced the VHS application at the meeting.

Trainings in using these m-Health devices and health data registry tablets were conducted for 65 medical professionals who work in the pilot sites.

At the meeting the Ambassadors complemented on the successful implementation of the project and expressed their interest in looking into possibilities of collaboration and support for the further expansion of the m-Health early screening project.