Mobile telemedicine comes to Botswana
By EUNICE MASIE :
The Ministry of Health (MoH) has launched a two-week mobile telemedicine pilot programme with Mzansi Lifecare Group to provide Nyagabgwe Referral Hospital with effective and quality healthcare services.
The Mobile Telemedicine Unit (MTU) based at the Francistown hospital will use information technology to eliminate distance barriers and bring medical services that are unavailable in rural communities to their doorstep.The unit has state of the art clinical devices that provide the same services as a stationary clinic. The equipment is tailor-made for the client's needs and will be manned by radiographers who will communicate the condition of patients with specialists at district and referral hospitals. The telemedicine units can be fitted with devices for mammography, surgical treatment, sonar and radiology to mention but a few.
Dr Memory Muturiki, the chief executive officer of Mzansi Lifecare Group says the implementation of the project shows the commitment of the MoH and her company to bring the latest universal solutions to all Botswana regardless of their economic standing. Muturiki said the mobile unit is meant to bring tangible results in the healthcare sector of Botswana, particularly in rural areas where there is a high shortage of skilled personnel. "As a company, we share a common interest with African governments to decrease the mortality rate of their nations. We are a patient-centered company. We strive for clinical excellence and we value human dignity in our dealings with patients," she said.She added that the unit will reduce the number of people relying on hospital care and those requiring transportation by ambulance to far away hospitals so that ambulances can be reserved for emergency services. The beneficiary of the MTU will be the Remote Area Development (RAD) programme, which is aimed at eradicating poverty in 67 rural settlements that are without access to basic amenities, with populations ranging from 250-500.
The MTU will link the remote area dwellers with the best medical facilities and assist the ministry in curbing disease outbreaks in a short period of time, hence relieving the already burdened public healthcare sector. Muturiki congratulated the Botswana government for playing a major role in the improvement of healthcare services to Botswana regardless of where they live. "I congratulate the government of Botswana through the ministry for being one of the first African countries to embark on the provision of telemedicine services to Batswana.
We also extend our gratitude to the Norilsk Licke in Russia and Tati Nickel Company for donating a Mobile Telemedicine Unit to the Botswana government and sponsoring training," she said.Mzansi Lifecare Group is a private healthcare company with headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa and has current developments in Angola, Namibia, Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe.