Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tele-medicine reforms medical delivery in Zambia

By Meluse Kapatamoyo

The provision of efficient medical services remains a challenge in most Zambian health institutions let alone, military establishments, but the recent tele-medicine solution being provided by mobile phone company, Zamtel, is set to change all that.

Information and communication technology is enabling specialist doctors and medical staff at Maina Soko Military Hospital and Mount Eugenia Health Centre of Zambia Air Force in Lusaka West, conduct live tele-medicine sessions between the two hospitals.

This technology allows interaction via live video link by providing real-time health care consultation services. It stores data for the patient while capturing video and photos which are later sent to medical consultants for diagnosis and follow-up treatment.

Maina Soko Hospital currently houses most of the defence medical specialists and staff, remote military medical centres therefore refer complicated cases to the hospital, a process that is both inefficient and expensive.

Zamtel’s tele-medicine solution is expected to address these challenges by eliminating the time and cost associated with frequent travel between remote medical centres and Maina Soko Hospital. This will also allow for more rational use of the time and expertise of Defence Force medical specialists.

Zamtel Chief Executive Officer Dr. Mwanakatwe said “The tele-medicine solution is being delivered through a dedicated point-to-point connection and is able to eliminate, to a large extent, travel between remote medical centres and Maina Soko Hospital for both staff and patients.”

“This particular solution is readily available using the current Zamtel network infrastructure and is a mix of optical fibre and radio technologies. We stand ready to work with the government and the medical fraternity in order to bring about the efficient delivery of modern health care services in Zambia through tele-medicine,” added Dr Mwanakatwe.

The solution also provides for net meeting, web conferencing, e-learning, Internet access and data transfer.

The project is funded by the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and US Department of Defence in partnership with the American International Health Alliance’s HIV/AIDS Twinning Centre and the Zambian Ministry of Defence Medical Services through Maina Soko Hospital.



Anonymous said...

Excellent article on how ICTs can enhance health care delivery.

Meluse Kapatamoyo said...

It's a positive development indeed.