PARINTINS, Brazil, Dec. 5, 2007 – Mayor Frank Luis da Cunha Garcia needs just a few words to describe how technology has changed life for the better in this remote island city: “Intel opened a window in the middle of the Amazon Forest for the people of Parintins to see the world.”
A year after Intel Corporation and several technology companies installed a high-speed WiMAX wireless network in Parintins — giving 100,000 inhabitants access to medical, educational and information resources — Intel Chairman Craig Barrett returned to see the progress achieved to date. He also helped launch new initiatives to move the digital transformation forward.
In the past year, Barrett regularly referenced the digital village pilot project, describing it as a showcase of expanding what’s possible through technology. The project involved providing high-speed Internet access to a primary healthcare center, two public schools, a community center and Amazon State University. Intel also donated and installed telemedicine equipment at the healthcare center and computer labs at the two schools.
While in Parintins, Barrett met with residents who have benefited from the project, including teachers, students, healthcare providers and patients. He also visited the healthcare center, which is expanding its telemedicine facilities, inaugurated a new public library that features wireless Internet access and donated computers to help local municipalities carry on the work Intel started.
“Intel planted the seeds for digital inclusion in Parintins a year ago by putting the technology resources in place,” said Barrett. “It’s inspiring to see local municipalities and community leaders expand these efforts. Together we’re creating a sustainable model that can be deployed across Brazil and the world.”
Progress Paves Way for Expansion
Barrett visited Centro de Saude Irmao Francisco Galliani, the clinic where Intel helped launch a telemedicine project last year. The program allows the 32 doctors in Parintins to interact with colleagues at Amazon State University in Manaus and São Paulo University via the Internet, using telemedicine systems and videoconferencing technology to enable long-distance training, real-time consultation with specialists and remote diagnostics. To date, nearly 100 patients in Parintins have had the opportunity to be assisted by specialists in Manaus.
Springboarding on the project’s success, local officials today announced that the municipality will build a larger telemedicine facility on the site to accommodate program expansion. The telemedicine clinic’s doctors, who currently focus on dermatology diagnosis due to a high incidence of skin cancers, hope to enlarge its scope to include health issues such as HIV, tuberculosis and diabetes. Barrett announced that Intel, with support from local PC manufacturer CCE, is donating PCs to support the expansion of the telemedicine program infrastructure, the new library and another community center.
Barrett also attended the opening ceremony of a new public library where citizens can access computers and other digital resources. The library features a PC lab, installed by São Paulo University, which will serve as a digital medical information center.
During the library dedication, Barrett and the mayor of Parintins gave awards to local students enrolled in a new Young Doctor Program. Sponsored by Intel and developed jointly with São Paulo University, the program engages high school students to teach basic preventive healthcare in their communities using resources such as the telemedicine lab, distance learning and a software application called the Virtual Human Body.
To see the impact that the Parintins digital makeover has had on education in the past year, Barrett talked with students and teachers at Lila Maia School. Students demonstrated that they are benefiting from technology and Internet access by showing him a research project they completed using computers.
Suanam Sicsu, who teaches history at Irma Cristine Public School where Intel also installed a PC lab last year, said, “Parents have noticed that the students are starting to change the way they think about studying.”
Barrett, who also chairs the United Nations Global Alliance for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Development, is in Brazil finishing a global tour focused on digital accessibility that spanned 17 cities in Asia, Africa and South America in the past 100 days.
Barrett is also meeting today with President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brasilia. They are expected to discuss outcomes from the CEO Forum Barrett participated in two months ago and progress achieved in Parintins through public-private partnership. Intel’s chairman will also highlight the need for local governments to view ICT as a national priority and develop public policies to help accelerate social and economic opportunities for all citizens.
Through its World Ahead Program, Intel strives to improve education, healthcare, entrepreneurship and government services in developing countries worldwide by accelerating access to computers, connectivity and localized Internet content. Additional information is available at www.intel.com/changingtheworld and www.intel.com/intel/worldahead.