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RURAL HEALTH POSTS GET 'VIRTUAL DOCTORS' BOOST

Posted by David Ngenda on Wed 22 June, 2016

In 2013, Government embarked on an ambitious project of constructing 650 health posts in rural Zambia. The aim of this project was to take quality health services 'closer to the people' and shorten the distance between rural communities and hospitals.

However, most health centers commissioned under this and other projects are often forced to refer patients to district hospitals hours away due to a lack of resident doctors thereby defeating the purpose of the facilities' existence i.e. shorten the distance to quality healthcare for rural dwellers. The remoteness of some areas coupled with the absence of emergency vehicles at the health centers means patients are often forced to walk or cycle 20-30km or more to get treatment. Most succumb to their illness long before they get close to a hospital.

Virtual doctors is a UK based charity project set up to link rural health posts with specialist volunteer doctors overseas. Health workers here send details of the patient's symptoms to a specialist doctor who then provides guidance regarding diagnosis and treatment.

Health workers and clinical officers on the ground use an app on a smartphone or tablet computer to take photographs and notes of a patient's symptoms. The doctor will have a list of the drugs and equipment kept in the health centre in Zambia and can suggest treatment or further tests based on what is practical and available reports the BBC.

Virtual Doctors founder, Huw Jones, says the project supports health services for about 19 health centers and two district hospitals in Zambia which brings the number of beneficiaries to over 1million people.

As the Country battles to avail health services to all and reduce the Doctor-patient ratio, Virtual doctors will play a key role in preventing avoidable deaths by filling critical gaps in service delivery at rural health posts.

The Virtual Doctor system has plans to expand to more communities within and outside Zambia as it strives to assist delivery of good quality healthcare for all.

 

SEE ALSO:

ZAMBIA HAS DONE WELL IN HEALTH 

GOVT GO FOR MOBILE HEALTH PROGRAMME 

NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE IN PIPELINE 

STATE TO RECRUIT 2500 HEALTH WORKERS 


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