Kiosks bringing health care to Africans


In America, there's one doctor for every 390 people, but regions in sub-Saharan Africa have one doctor for every 50,000 people, a fact that makes it difficult for Africans to receive health care. Many people from rural areas of countries such as Tanzania or Kenya travel for an entire day and spend up to two days' income for medical advice.Kiosks, however, are helping, according to a story in the Huffinton Post.

With help from Professor Khanjan Mehta, director of the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) Program at Pennsylvania State University, a group of students designed Mashavu Networked Healthcare Solutions, a self-sustaining telemedicine system, based on kiosks that use computer and smart phone technology, as well as ruggedized biomedical devices.

The kiosks assess patients' vitals, including weight, body temperature, lung capacity, pulse rate, blood pressure and medical history. That info is transmitted through a cell-phone link to a secure website, accessible to participating medical professionals. These professionals, including physicians and nurses, read the patients' information and reply to the kiosk operator with personalized recommendations in 20 minutes

The first group of students traveled to Kenya to implement the plan in May 2009. Since then, students have been going there annually to help expand the system.

In July 2011, the students launched a one-year continuous pilot test in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Office (UNIDO) and the Children Youth Empowerment Center (CYEC), in Nyeri, Kenya. Stats from the study show that Kenyans are willing to travel to and pay for time at a kiosk. Other surveys have shown one-third of the patients who visited the kiosks did so simply to learn about their health.

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