Treatment over the internet as telemedicine catches up from Kenya’s refugee camps is now possible as the internet makes it cost effective and easily accessible.
While it is almost impossible to get expertise from qualified doctors if one is from the far flung areas of Kenya, the internet is making it possible to get diagnoses and treatment from the comfort of one’s local home area.
Liquid Telecom Kenya has connected Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital in Nairobi to Dadaab refugee complex offering treatment to the community of approximately 250,000 refugees across four camps.
The connection gives access to dedicated healthcare including consultations, diagnostics and treatment over the internet.
Providing medical services to the quarter of a million refugees almost 500km away from Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital has been inhibited by the absence of specialists in the remote semi-arid area where Dadaab’s four camps are.
By using a 15Mbps connection at the hospital’s Nairobi headquarters and a 2Mbps link at Dadaab sub-county hospital, Liquid Telecom Kenya is enabling the largest paediatric centre in East and Central Africa to deliver advanced treatment directly to Dadaab.
“Liquid Telecom’s high-speed network is now facilitating cost-effective delivery of specialised healthcare services to one of the world’s largest refugee camp which has traditionally been inhibited by the absence of specialists in the remote semi-arid area,” said Liquid Telecom East Africa Chief Executive Officer Adil El-Youssefi.
He added, “We are especially excited as this not only brings essential healthcare to the most disadvantaged communities, it supports the government’s commitment to providing universal healthcare – one of Kenya’s Big 4 policy agenda items.”
The link to Dadaab has enabled the hospital to successfully treat more than 56 patients so far.
“When we get a call from Dadaab requesting time and input from our specialists, the ICT department notifies the relevant doctor and then schedules a virtual consultation using video conferencing equipment across Liquid Telecom’s network,” said Peter Kanda, Head of Information Services, Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital.
The hospital is also offering telemedicine services in Mombasa, Sekenani (Narok County) and Kibera in Nairobi and will soon deploy the services to the Mara.
Last year in September, German science and technology company Merck launched the first of several “Points of Care for Integrated Healthcare Services” units in Kenya.
Among these was telemedicine in the CURAFA pilot units seeking to improve access, availability, affordability and awareness of primary healthcare services to the communities.
CURAFA points of care are platforms for integrated primary healthcare services, covering clinical and pharmaceutical services including disease awareness and education.
Disease screening along with medicine dispensing and digital health solutions, insurance and patient financing schemes are part of the offering for the local community.
As part of the pilot, four more CURAFA points of care will open soon in Machakos, Kiambu and Nairobi counties.
The word CURAFA is derived from the combination of the Latin word ‘curare’, and the Swahili word ‘afya’, which mean care and health respectively.
These counties were selected based on underserved locations neighbouring Nairobi to facilitate the pilot phase.
Merck’s goal is to develop a sustainable business model to address the primary healthcare needs in chosen communities.
Francois Feig, Head of Global Business Franchise General Medicine & Endocrinology at Merck´s biopharma business, said: “CURAFA is a contribution to the Sustainable Development Goal #3 Good Health and Well-Being and its target of Universal Health Coverage, which is one of the immediate priorities of the government of Kenya.”
He added that CURAFA addresses people suffering from inequalities in primary healthcare access aiming to improve patients’ well-being and allowing them to live to their full potential.
CURAFA has partnered with several Kenyan organizations and institutions, from medical suppliers, local drug manufacturers to digital solution providers. AMREF is the key implementation partner.