Samburu, Kenya, March 1 – The M-PESA Foundation and the Gertrude Hospital Foundation today launched their telemedicine initiative, Daktari Smart, in Samburu County.
The program targets over 32,000 children in Lamu, Samburu, Homabay and Baringo counties and aims to reduce the number of referrals of sick children by allowing health facilities in the county to have access to specialists.
“Patients in this county have struggled with poor infrastructure, which has resulted in late and sometimes too late arrivals at the hospital. This is what Daktari Smart seeks to solve. This also seeks to optimize the capacity and reach of health care delivery systems by facilitating access to health services, especially for children,said Karen Basiye, Head of Sustainable Business and Social Impact, Safaricom.
According to the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board, the doctor-to-patient ratio in the country is currently around one doctor for every 6,355 people, making it difficult to access a qualified medical professional. This ratio increases even more when it comes to specialists. Counties participating in the program have one or no pediatricians to treat children.
The initiative will allow doctors in Samburu County to connect with their counterparts at Gertrude Children’s Hospital for expert medical advice. This will reduce patient referrals, save costs and make treatments faster.
The M-PESA Foundation has committed over KES 168 million to the initiative, while the Gertrude Hospital Foundation will invest over KES 35 million over the next 3 years.
“Our mission as Gertrude’s Hospital Foundation is to transform communities by improving access to quality healthcare services for needy and disadvantaged children nationwide. We achieve this by embracing innovation and technology, as well as research. The Daktari Smart program will enable us to provide much-needed specialist care to children in remote areas, as well as develop appropriate data and information to support pediatric healthcare across the country,” said Les Baillie, President of the Gertrude’s Hospital Foundation.
Additionally, Daktari Smart will also see Community Health Volunteers, Social Workers and County Health Officers benefit from video conferencing training to build their skills and capacity.
Daktari Smart also has a kit with electronic medical devices such as electronic stethoscope, vital signs monitor, Dermascope camera, ultrasound machine, otoscope (used to examine the condition of the ear canal and eardrum ) and electrocardiogram (ECG) used to check heart rate and electrical activity.
Unlike traditional videoconferencing, Daktari Smart allows a healthcare professional from a local partner healthcare facility to place electronic medical devices such as a stethoscope or vital signs monitor on the patient.
The Gertrude Children’s Hospital specialist is then able to see the patient and hear their vital signs in real time without interpretation from the local facility health worker.
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 fiber connectivity.
Screens will also be used for video conferencing to facilitate regular capacity building for over 300 health workers working in rural health facilities; and the training of 360 social workers and community health volunteers (CHVs) in the local community who will support social mobilization.