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Home / Health & Science

Children in remote areas to access doctors remotely

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy MACTILDA MBENYWE | Mon,Dec 06 2021 00:00:00 EAT
By MACTILDA MBENYWE | Mon,Dec 06 2021 00:00:00 EAT

 

Daktari Smart allows medics in remote to link patients with specialists. [Courtesy]

Children in remote areas will now access doctors through telemedicine. 

Dubbed Daktari Smart, the three-year programme will provide treatment to 32,400 children in Samburu, Homa Bay, Baringo and Lamu. Two other counties will be brought on board in the next phase of the program.

Daktari Smart, a project between M-Pesa Foundation and Gertrude’s Hospital Foundation allows medics in remote but partner health facilities to link patients with specialists examining them in real-time online, thus reducing the number of referrals and optimising the capacity and reach of healthcare delivery systems.

According to the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board, the doctor to patient ratio currently stands at 1:6,355 people, making access to qualified medics difficult. This ratio increases when it comes to specialists. For instance, participating counties have only one or no paediatrician to treat children.

M-Pesa Foundation chair Michael Joseph said Daktari Smart will address delays in receiving adequate healthcare in rural and underserved areas through telemedicine as “patients who would otherwise have to spend a significant amount of time and money to travel long distances to urban areas to seek care, will now be able to receive specialist care from their local health facility.” 

M-Pesa Foundation has committed over Sh168 million while Gertrude’s Hospital Foundation will invest over Sh35 million in the next three years.

Gertrude’s Hospital Foundation chair Les Baillie said the program involves embracing innovation, technology and research to improve access to quality healthcare services to disadvantaged children besides developing “appropriate data and information to support paediatric healthcare in the country.”

Daktari Smart is a kit compromising electronic medical devices like the Electronic Stethoscope, Vital Signs Monitor, Derma scope Camera, Ultrasound Machine, Otoscope (which examines the ear canal and eardrum) and the electrocardiogram (ECG) used to check the heart’s rhythm and electrical activity.

Daktari Smart allows medics at local partner health facilities to place the electronic medical devices on the patient and the specialist at Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital is then able.

The bandwidth requirement for the equipment is low, ranging from 512Kbps to 2Mbps. This means the platform can be installed in rural and underserved areas that do not have fiber connectivity.

Screens will also be used for video conferencing to facilitate regular capacity building for over 300 health workers serving in the rural health facilities; and training of 360 social workers and community health volunteers (CHVs) in the local community who will support in social mobilisation.

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