Economy

State unveils telemedicine to boost healthcare access in remote areas

Joseph Sitienei

Dr Joseph Sitienei, head of the health services at the Ministry of Health. FILE | NMG PHOTO

lynetigadwah_img

Summary

  • Kenyans in rural and remote locations are set to enjoy remote diagnosis and treatment as the government rolls out a telemedicine project in 20 health facilities.
  • The telemedicine project will be hosted on the Digital Health Platform that facilitates efficient and effective service delivery and accountability in health facilities.

Kenyans in rural and remote locations are set to enjoy remote diagnosis and treatment as the government rolls out a telemedicine project in 20 health facilities.

The telemedicine project will be hosted on the Digital Health Platform that facilitates efficient and effective service delivery and accountability in health facilities.

Some Sh600 million through the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) has been earmarked to fund the laying out of the foundation for telemedicine in the health facilities. 

“If we cannot provide enough skilled staff in all our health facilities, we can surely take the skilled staff to the rural areas through telemedicine,” said Joseph Sitienei, head of the Health Service Management department, Ministry of Health.

The platform will enable real-time collection of patient data and provide platforms for integration with other critical databases. 

He said, the counties are currently being clustered so that they can be provided with remote care by the national referral facilities.

The Kenya National eHealth Strategy 2011 —2017 suggests 80 per cent of clinicians serve only 20 per cent of the population, highlighting the inequity in health care infrastructure and access between urban and rural Kenya.

“It is time that we have teleconsultations and tele referrals. There is no other opportune time than now,” said Dr Sitienei.

Kenya is a regional leader in broadband connectivity, ICT infrastructure, value-added services, and mobile money.

Quarterly data from the CA shows active mobile SIM card subscriptions stood at 64.4 million as of June 2021, representing 132.2 per cent market penetration. 

Internet subscriptions reached 46.7 million, 99 per cent of which were mobile data subscriptions.

The ministry of health is tapping on the fact that millions of Kenyans use their phones multiple times daily to communicate, access financial services, work from home, shop online, study and socialise.