In the beginning of 2013, we supported Virtual Doctor Project which is an innovative venture that supplies telemedicine technology to provide distant diagnosis to rural clinics in Africa.By enabling remote access to the skills and experienced doctors around the world via the local mobile broadband network, the service helps health workers to reduce unnecessary mortality and referrals to distant health-centres.
The software enables rural health doctors to consult with ‘virtual doctors’ across the globe, retains patient details and a record of the interaction between clinic staff and the remote doctors, enabling clinic staff to refer back at a later date. This database of patient information allows the clinic to monitor its effectiveness and to contribute to local health statistics.
The project has been initiated in three Zambian Ministry of Health centres in Kafue District of Southern Zambia – Chanyanya Rural Health Centre, Makeni Rural Health Centre and Kafue District Hospital. http://www.virtualdoctors.org/zambian-program/
One of the main obstacles to providing adequate healthcare in developing countries is the lack of effective diagnosis due to a shortage of trained medical staff. Low wages and poor working conditions make it very difficult to attract staff to rural areas. The number of registered Doctors in Zambia is currently only around 1000, a third of the number recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Around half of all Zambian-born physicians move to richer countries abroad to work for higher salaries and better working conditions (The Lancet).
In Zambia 65 percent of the population live in rural areas where health conditions are generally poorer and access to information, services and supplies is most limited. A key obstacle to patients gaining treatment can be the distances to local clinics or regional hospitals, and this journey can often take several days by foot or by bicycle even for healthy people. Early diagnosis and regular treatment would enhance the chances of recovery and reduce the number of referrals to hospital, helping to ease the burden on already over-stretched hospital services.
For more information about the project please contact Chalker Foundation For Africa