The beefy monster truck, engineered by the Russian Medical Consortium, could assist in bringing much needed medical expertise into remote areas of Botswana.
The mobile Telemedicine Unit, housed in a six-wheeled vehicle, is designed to travel over the most inhospitable terrain. It was handed over to the Ministry of Health by the Tati Nickel Company.
The state of the art vehicle came at a hefty price tag of P8.2million.
“The mobile telemedicine unit will touch the lives of many Batswana, including those in remote areas that are difficult to reach. This has come at the right time when we desperately need modern technology to improve our health care system,” said John Seakgosing, the Minister of Health.
The truck has been developed by the government-owned Russian Satellite Communications Company and the telemedicine company. The idea behind the vehicle is to enable doctors to make virtual house calls in isolated villages, where the nearest health centre could be several days away.
“These are usually the services that can only be obtained from our major centers, and what this means is that for those who will be getting a service from this vehicle, they will be saved from travelling long distances,” Seakgosing said.
Tati Nickel has previously worked with the North East District in a project in which they provided a fully-equipped mobile clinic with a nurse to service the communities three times a week, with occasional doctor visits.
The mobile clinic services the following villages of Patayamatebele, Matopi; and settlements such as Lephane, Pobe Pobe, Dipolasi, Sekokwe and Thekwane.
Norilsk Nickel, the company that owns Tati Nickel, will be providing training and technical support to the ministry for a period of 24 months.
The truck carries the equipment needed to provide basic health care as well as carry out mass screenings for diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV/Aids. Inside is an X-ray machine, an electrocardiograph (ECG) machine and other medical equipment. On top of the truck is a dish which uses Russian satellites to send and receive medical data, linking it with health experts hundreds of miles away.
Seakgosing appealed to the private sector to come on board and help to achieve a healthy nation by 2016 because Government cannot do it alone.
“We know that Botswana is facing significant difficulties in maintaining public health, which is one of key concerns of national development,” said Anatoly Korsun, Russian extraordinary and plenipotentiary Ambassador. “We hope this will be of great help to the national health sector and provide new working places for local medical specialists.”