Botswana’s upcoming strategy of adopting mobile telemedicine as an integral component of the Ministry of Health will make it possible to provide quality health care to marginalized communities living in underserviced remote settlements, Mzansi Life Care (MLC) Group Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Memory Muturiki, has said.
The South African-based Muturiki, with a strong trauma medication and therapeutically background, said the recent deployment of a donated multi-million pula, fully-fledged mobile telemedicine unit (MTU) to the Francistown Nyangabwe Referral Hospital shows commitment to bring on board one of medicine’s latest universal health solutions.
The MTU, donated by Russian Norilsk Nickel Mine, near Francistown, was part of preparations for a proposed pilot project to, among other aspects, determine cost-saving efficiencies, delivery expedience and viability.
Muturiki said that the pilot project with MTU will be conducted over a few months to bring to life tangible results of the concept in the health settings of Botswana and the impact this will bring to the health system, particularly in the remote rural areas.The implementation incumbents will discuss an evaluation of the pilot project benefits within at least three months after the initial MTU operation.
Telemedicine uses telecommunication and information technologies to provide clinical health care by eliminating distance barriers and improving access to medical services often not available in distant rural communities; it saves lives in critical care and emergency situations. It is essentially a product of 20th century telecommunication and information technologies, permitting communications between patient and medical staff with both convenience and fidelity, as well as the transmission of medical, imaging and health informatics data from one site to another. Telemedicine, achieved with telephone and radio, has been supplemented with video telephony, advanced diagnostic methods supported by distributed client-server applications and, additionally, with telemedical devices to support in-home care.
“Training forms the first part towards establishing a functional MTU as a way of creating a dedicated working team with team leader appointed to drive the pilot process and be part of the in-service training,” Muturiki told The Telegraph over the weekend. “Essential components of the training will involve conversancy with the mechanical operation of the hosting truck, telemedicine equipment, the general concept of telemedicine and universal healthcare mobiles.”
She added: “On completion of training, PP should begin with an elected overseeing task team for the best results. A hospital where MTU is based forms a core function of the task team.”
The Mzansi Group will continue to provide support and partnership of the entire MoH process and offer technical skills training, advice, add capacity and frequent follow-ups to address challenges focusing on skills transfer programmes, until well functioning in-service training is in place throughout the pilot and beyond, she said.
“I congratulate Botswana’s Ministry of Health for being one of the sub-Sahara African countries to embark in the provision of mobile telemedicine solutions and improving health care services to Batswana, regardless of where they live. The Nyangabwe Hospital management team who arranged and co-ordinated the training performed a fantastic job. We thank the MoH for giving us the opportunity to provide training and share our experience and expertise for the betterment of patients,” Muturiki said.