This is the third and final article of the “The Importance of Telemedicine through Satellite in Africa” series. In the previous article, we focused on telemedicine projects in Ghana and Ethiopia. This article will look at the telemedicine projects in Senegal and Kenya.
The most efficient way of implementing telemedicine in Africa is the construction of rural telemedicine centers that are equipped with all the required the IT applications and communications devices for remote consultation, diagnosis, treatment, transfer of medical data, and remote medical procedures or examinations. Telemedicine centers allow doctors and medical experts to provide professional medical services to rural areas, allowing them to spend more time giving medical aid without wasting long hours of travel time.
The best way to provide the telemedicine connectivity between urban hospitals and rural areas is by using satellite services on VSAT platforms. VSAT systems provides the crucial communication link that connects doctors and patients in remote clinics to the doctors and medical experts in various urban hospitals.
Below we will go through the effects of telemedicine in Senegal and Kenya, and see the effects of telemedicine on rural communities.
In Senegal, the mortality rate associated with birth complications is very high. Between 1979 and 1992, the maternal mortality rate is estimated at 510 deaths per 100,000. In order to address the mortality rate problem, the Lille Regional University Hospital (CHRU) and the European Institute of Telemedicine in Toulouse have partnered with health institutions in Senegal, some of which are in remote locations such as Saint-Louis Hospital and the Clinique du Cap. This partnership resulted in a Telemedicine Project in Senegal that utilizes videoconferencing to conduct teleconsultations between health professionals.
One of the key components of the Telemedicine Project is the distance training for health professionals in Senegal. The distance training occurs in remote health centers in Senegal through videoconference systems adapted to the medical environment which are connected remotely to urban hospitals. This results to a more efficient way of training the health professionals without spending a huge amount of time and resources on travel.
Kenya has launched the first phase of the National Telemedicine Initiative that aims to improve access to better healthcare for the rural poor and the marginalized. The telemedicine program will provide a platform that will enable patients and healthcare providers in rural areas to interact with health experts at Kenya’s main referral hospital, Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), using videoconferencing. The initiative is a partnership of Kenya’s Ministry of Health and Germany-headquartered Merck Group. The telemedicine initiative will link KNH to the Machakos Level Five Hospital located in the eastern region of Kenya.
The telemedicine initiative aims to build capacity and improve access to innovative and equitable healthcare solutions to Kenyans. The initiative is part of Merck’sCapacity Advancement Program started in 2013 to boost research and development, pharmacovigilance, medical education, and community awareness in the areas of non-communicable diseases.
The Future of Telemedicine in Africa
In the future, the governments of African countries may have to come under one umbrella for telemedicine services in the region. They may all be under the African Union (AU) to harmonize each individual country’s telemedicine policies, and to chart a common course for the African continent. The continuing progress of telemedicine through satellite services in Africa will serve millions of people in remote and rural areas who need medical services.