By Murigi Macharia
Kenya has today joined the growing list of countries that have embraced a new form of delivering healthcare services to make it accessible and affordable.
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, who launched the new tele-medicine programme, said the new solution would help improve the delivery of primary healthcare, including the most remote parts.
Telemedicine uses a growing variety of wireless tools and applications including smartphones, two-way video systems, emails, and other forms of telecommunications technology.
Dubbed SEMA-DOC (Hello Doctor), the new healthcare solution enables patients to consult directly with doctors and other health providers, be diagnosed quickly and prescriptions made without necessarily visiting the hospital on the part of the patient.
Besides convenience, affordability and accessibility where time and travelling costs for patients are completely removed, tele-medicine solutions are available for almost everybody, everywhere, anytime (24/7).
In a country where some 30 million subscribers have access to mobile telephones, telemedicine is billed as an ingenious, cost-effective solution that is likely to transform the delivery of healthcare and impact ordinary people’s lives the same way that Beyond–Zero, M-pesa and M-shwari money transfer systems have touched Kenyans.
Some of the obvious benefits of the tele-medicine healthcare solution include efficiency in the use of in-field equipment, the home field advantage (treating patients in their own environments), top flight healthcare access and most importantly, the all-important linkage between developed and third world countries using tell-health technologies.
Telemedicine allows the sharing of facilities and equipment like is happening between Machakos and Kakamega hospitals.
Compared to the traditional healthcare delivery system where the patient usually visits the doctor when sick and the ailment advanced, said the First Lady, the SEMA-DOC system is aimed at prevention and checking of diseases at their earliest stages.
“The main focus of the Hello Doctor initiative is to reduce the incidence of preventable health problems, improve efficiency, and ultimately save more lives. Mobile Health platforms can provide access and reach that other channels cannot match”, said the First Lady.
She said the new technology will also address the multiple challenges that often prevent the efficient delivery of adequate healthcare interventions. These include chronic staff shortages, and limited budgets.
She hailed the partnership between the ministry of Health, Safaricom, the Commercial Bank of Africa and the Hello Doctor Group for partnering in the new healthcare venture.
“What we are launching today is a clear testimony of an excellent product developed when an innovative private sector inspires and funds a creative public sector. It is a win -win situation for Kenyans”, said the First Lady.
The new healthcare solution will also offer health tip through public education to contain such diseases as Diabetes and Cancer.
“This innovative mobile health care system will also be applied in areas of maternal and child health in support of the Beyond Zero campaign. This will ultimately lead to improved health of mothers and reduction of poverty among families.
The launch was also attended by Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore, CBA Managing Director Isaac Awuondo and Hello Doctor Director and Co-founder Dr. Michel Mol among others.
– Source: Office of the First Lady Kenya