M-PESA Foundation and Gertrude’s Hospital Foundation have launched the Daktari Smart telemedicine program targeting over 32,000 children in Samburu, Homabay, Baringo and Lamu Counties. Two other counties will be brought on board in the next phase of the program.
The project aims to reduce the number of referrals of sick children by allowing county health facilities to have access to specialists. It will also optimize the capacity and reach of healthcare delivery systems.
According to the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board (KMPDU), the doctor to patient ratio currently stands at about one doctor for every 6,355 people which leads to difficulties in getting access to a qualified medical professional.
“Daktari Smart aims to address the delays in receiving adequate healthcare in rural and underserved areas through telemedicine. 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,” said M-PESA Foundation Chairperson Michael Joseph.
M-PESA Foundation has committed over 168 million shillings towards the initiative while Gertrude’s Hospital Foundation will invest over 35 million shillings in the next 3 years.
“Our mission as Gertrude’s Hospital Foundation is to transform communities by improving access to quality healthcare services to needy and disadvantaged children in the country. This involves embracing innovation and technology, as well as research. The Daktari Smart program will enable us to provide the much-needed specialist care to children in far flung areas, as well as develop appropriate data and information to support paediatric healthcare in the country,” said Gertrude’s Hospital Foundation Chairman Les Baillie.
Daktari Smart is a kit that compromises electronic medical devices such as the Electronic Stethoscope, Vital Signs Monitor, Derma scope Camera, Ultrasound Machine, Otoscope (examine the condition of the ear canal and eardrum) and the electrocardiogram (ECG) used to check the heart’s rhythm and electrical activity.
Unlike the conventional video conferencing, Daktari Smart allows the health care worker at the local partner health facilities, to place the electronic medical devices such as a stethoscope or vital signs monitor on the patient.
The specialist at Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital is then able to see the patient and hear the sounds real time without the interpretation from the health worker at the local facility.
The bandwidth requirement for the equipment is low, ranging from 512Kbps to 2Mbps. This means that the platform can be installed in rural and underserved areas that do not have fibre 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 mobilization.