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Sh12m digital healthcare programme launched in Homa Bay

By James Omoro | December 5th 2021

Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti M-PESA Foundation executive director Les Baille, Gertrude’s Children's Hospital chief executive Robert Nyarango and a clinician examine a child during the launch of a telemedicine centre at Suba Sindo Sub-County Hospital in Suba North Sub-County. [James Omoro, Standard]

Two foundations have launched a Sh12 million digital healthcare programme in Homa Bay County to improve access to quality healthcare in rural areas.

M-PESA Foundation and Gertrude's Hospital Foundation in partnership with Homa Bay County Government on Sunday opened a telemedicine Sindo Sub-County Hospital in Suba North.

The programme also known as Daktari Smart allows the healthcare workers at the local telemedicine facility to use electronic medical devices on patients and communicate with their counterparts at Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital in Nairobi in real-time. 

The specialists at Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital will see the patient and hear the sounds in real-time without the interpretation from the health worker at the local facility.

Daktari Smart aims to address delays in receiving healthcare in rural areas where transport is a serious challenge because of poor road networks.

Speaking when they opened the telemedicine centre, M-PESA Foundation executive director Les Baille said their aim is to improve access to quality healthcare services to disadvantaged children in the country.

“This programme will enable us to provide the much-needed specialised care to children in remote areas, as well as develop data to support paediatric healthcare,” said Baillie, who is also the Chairman of Gertrude’s Hospital Foundation.

Governor Cyprian Awiti expressed hope that the programme will reduce the mortality rate in the county.

 “Health is the foundation of economic development. This programme will efficiently address cases of complicated diseases which cannot be handled locally,” Awiti said.

 He told residents to utilise the programme to address their health challenges.

The programme will also see community health volunteers, social workers and health workers in the county benefit from training on capacity building via video conferencing.

Uzazi Salama initiative

The M-PESA Foundation in collaboration with other partners such as PharmAccess Africa, AMREF Health Africa, Action Aid, Pathfinder International and the county government will also undertake a Sh150 million programme to promote maternal healthcare in the county.

The programme dubbed Uzazi Salama targets about 86,469 women and children under the age of five in Ndhiwa and Suba sub-counties.

According to the founders, the programme will strengthen the county’s health systems and support the delivery of quality reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent healthcare.

Homa Bay is one of the counties in the country with poor reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health indicators.

The programme’s launch was marked by laying a foundation for the construction of a modern maternity wing at Ndhiwa Sub-county hospital.

Baille expressed optimism that the programme will encourage local mothers to deliver in health facilities.

“Every mother and newborn child deserves an equal chance of survival during the childbirth process,” said Baille.

On his part, Governor Awiti said Ndhiwa and Suba sub-counties face various challenges which put them in need of proper maternal healthcare.

 “We are battling teenage pregnancies, especially during childbirth because biologically, their bodies are not yet ready for the exercise. This partnership will not only educate people on safe sex and childbirth but also reduce maternal and child deaths,” said Awiti.

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