NAIROBI: A new technology which allows patients to interact with doctors without necessarily visiting a health facility has been launched.
The Sema Doc service was launched yesterday by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta at Serena Hotel. The technology is an innovative mobile clinic which offers 24-hour access to doctors through a mobile phone. A call goes for Sh60 unlimited talk, and short messages service (SMS) are free.
One gets medical prescription through an SMS. The platform also offers free daily healthy living tips and the chance to keep a personal account through the phone for emergencies. Speaking during the launch, Mrs Kenyatta said the new solution would help improve the delivery of primary healthcare even in the most remote parts.
“Low-level access to healthcare facilities is responsible for all our health problems. Sema Doc is hinged on both prevention and cure of ailments in their primary stages,” she said.
Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia thanked the private sector for coming up with such innovations that would help boost access to health facilities. Sema Doc is a product of the South African-based Hello Doctor organisation, in partnership with Safaricom and Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA).
“For public health measures to succeed, they have to be supported by initiatives from the private sector. That’s why today I think Sema Doc is very important,” Mr Macharia said.
In a thinly veiled attack on Safaricom’s competitors, the CS asked people to stop complaining about one mobile network’s dominance and instead strive to catch up.
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Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore said the long queues he witnessed at Kenyatta National Hospital were not necessary for simple ailments.
“Health services needed in places like East Pokot or even near here in Kibera can simply be made available by the use of mobile phones, since mobile phones reach in Kenya is high,” he said.
Hello Doc co-founder and director Michael Mol regretted the average life expectancy of Kenya, which stands at 61, saying it was unacceptable considering the world average is 71.
CBA Group Managing Director Isaac Awuondo emphasised the importance innovations like M-Swari, M-Pesa and now Sema Doc, which he said claimed benefited micro-entrepreneurs, wage-earners, youth and women. “Over 60,000 M-Shwari loans are granted every day and of these, 28,000 are in response to health issues,” he said.