By Erick Wamanji
Peter ole Kampus (real name withheld on request) stops to read a text message from his cell phone. The one-word message is coded but he understands what it means. It reminds him to take his antiretroviral drugs and he rushes back to the house for the medicine.
Telemedicine â this is how HIV/Aids is being tackled in Kajiado,150km from Nairobi.
"Sometimes I forget the drugs and the SMS reminds me. This way, I keep the prescription schedule," Kampus explains.
Perhaps, somebody else could also remind him about his drugs responsibility but Kampus doesnât want to go public about his status and that is why this interview was granted on condition that his identity is never revealed.
But he says he has found âsomeoneâ empathetic â a cell phone and is at ease with this arrangement.
Hundreds of residents in this region have enrolled in the telemedicine project, a new concept (in Kenya) that is popular among HIV/ Aids patients in Kajiado.
The messages are coded and can only be understood by intended recipients.
This concept is a brainchild of a project, Weltel/Afyatel, a joint collaboration between the University of Manitoba (Canada) and University of Nairobi. The project managers say most remote areas would be ringing with alerts soon.
"The response is quite positive. Many patients have stuck to their drugs schedule. Besides, they are just happy that someone cares. They also want the cell phone programme to continue," says Ms Sarah Karanja, the project co-ordinator.
This explains why the cell phone concept would be critical to augment patient healthcare support and monitoring. No doubt, the ingenuity is likely to revolutionise the medical sector.