Online Journal of Space Communication

Satellites and Health (Winter 2009)

General Editor Introduction

This issue of the Online Journal of Space Commuincation examines the roles that space-based satellites are performing in health education, communication, management and services delivery. To illustrate, health professionals and their service providers have been asked to describe the things that they have been doing to make effective use of satellite technologies, and to explain how and why.

Contributions from multiple regions of the world have been received in response to our call. In this issue, readers will find reports and commentary from some of the most advanced technological countries of the world, such as Austria, Canada, China and the United Kingdom, and from those new to these applications as with Colombia, Nigeria and South Africa. The Journal has also received permission to draw on the "telemedicine via satellite" report of the European Journal for Medical Research and its glossary of terms.

The capabilities of satellite networks to deliver health services have greatly improved in coverage, in speed and in types of applications. Many of the performance leaps that occurred in computers and wireless communication on earth occurred simultaneous with satellite transmissions between earth and space.

In the 21st Century, satellite communication has evolved to a stage where user access is no longer limited to those who can afford giant earth stations, expensive production studios and control rooms. Health communication is more like a commodity service by which professionals can interact with each other via space platforms, when and wherever the need arises. Earth terminals are smaller and less expensive, yet they are more robust and easier to use. As with terrestrial telecommunications, greater intelligence lies within the networks and spacecraft come with digital processing capabilities, offering a host of scalable, on-demand services. Spot beams are used for easier, more direct targeting of customers, and bandwidth is less expensive.

Health education and services delivery were among the earliest of satellite applications. Via space was often the only way to bring access to users when telecommunication infrastructure was not yet in place on the ground. Today, satellite services are no longer just a backup used only when other services are down and there's nothing else available. Satellite networks are integrated into the basic infrastructure of modern communication, and as such have become indispensable for the conduct of commerce, for the delivery of education, information and entertainment, for surveillance and planning and for anything else that is conveyed via narrowband or broadband networks.

This issue of the Journal illustrates just how important and how pervasive satellite technology applications in health have become. We are privileged to have as our Guest Editor Dr. Rafael Obregon, Director of Ohio University's Communication and Development Program.

As a teacher of graduate and undergraduate students, his courses include communication for development and social change, research methods, and media and international communications. His research interests include public health communication, entertainment-education and development, and capacity building issues, with a focus on sexual and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, and maternal and child health. All of which prepare him will to lead this issue of the Journal. He may be contacted at:

Dr. Rafael Obregon, Director
Communication and Development Program
Center for International Studies, Yamada House
Ohio University
Athens, OH 45701
Tel: +1 740 593-4856
Email: obregon@ohio.edu
Web: http://www.commdev.ohio.edu

Or send your communication directly to the Editor:

Don M. Flournoy, Professor of Telecommunications
General Editor, Online Journal of Space Communication
School of Media Arts and Studies
Scripps College of Communication
Ohio University, Athens, Ohio 45701
Tel: +1 740 593 4866
Fax: +1 740 593 9184
Email: don.flournoy@ohio.edu

Front Matter



Telehealth Policy: Looking for Global Complementarity
Richard E. Scott, M. Faruq U. Chowdhury, and Sunil Varghese


A Review of Telemedicine in China
Zhelong Wang and Hong Gu


Satellite Imagery in the Study and Forecast of Malaria
David J. Rogers, Sarah E. Randolph, Robert W. Snow, and Simon I. Hay


Opportunities And Challenges of E-Health and Telemedicine Via Satelite
C. Dario, A. Dunbar, F. Feliciani, M. Garcia-Barbero, S. Giovannetti, G. Graschew, A. Güell, A. Horsch, M. Jenssen, L. Kleinebreil, R. Latifi, M. M. Lleo, P. Mancini, M. T.J. Mohr, P. Ortiz García, S. Pedersen, J. M. Pérez-Sastre, and A. Rey


Remote Sensing and Human Health: New Sensors and New Opportunities
Louisa R. Beck, Bradley M. Lobitz, and Byron L. Wood