Online African doctors; can they bridge the physical gap between patients and physicians?

Online African doctors; can they bridge the physical gap between patients and physicians?

Online African doctors; can they bridge the physical gap between patients and physicians?

Online African doctors;Can they bridge the physical gap between patients and physicians?

Africa is undergoing several changes today,and just like the other continents is getting waves from web 2.0.The world has moved towards digitization in most sectors say fintech, retail shopping,entertainment, name it.Healthcare though has been slow to adapt to this speed partly because it’s structured in a very conservative way in its systems all over the world.But since 5 years now, healthcare in the more developed economies is steadily moving towards digitization, having advanced electronic medical records, wearables, increased use of Artificial Intelligence in physician-decision support and data anaysis, use of big data, say it,name it. Startup Health ,an organisation collecting and connecting healthcare transformers boasts of having over 800 startups, who are actively trying to digitize the healthcare experience for everyone in the world.

So you may ask;where does Africa stand in this? Africa has the largest doctor to patient ratios with some regions having as few as 1 doctor for every 10000 people while WHO recommends 1 doctor for a maximum of 600 people. More to this, the health infrastructure is so poor, with fewer hospitals and people have to move long distances to reach them. Because of low healthcare budgets by our African governments, i doubt we are going to build hospitals fast enough to bridge this gap, since most countries are failing to follow the “Maputo Declaration” which advised governments to allocate at least 15% of their budgets to healthcare.

At Aferdoc,Inc we believe that if we can get a number of our African doctors online, we could be able to reach and help a vast number of people, for whom the poor health infrastructure has affected and cut them off from access.That is why we are seeking to provide many online African doctors on to try to bridge the gap, as they provide telemedicine services to fellow Africans. We believe technology has potential to help us connect patients to doctors, to help us bridge the gap that poor health infrastructure has caused.

Considering that internet access in Africa has vasty increased over the last decade with about 26.9% of Africans connected.We can use this medium to reach out to more people. Online doctors at will be willing to provide telemedicine services to Africa; providing health advice and prescriptions for common health problems for example respiratory, skin and mental health problems, to those in remote areas.You can communicate with these doctors on chat,phone call or video call and can exchange images,sound or small videos in real time to enable the doctor make better analysis of your condition. Conditions such as cough, allergies for skin or respiratory systems, depression, etc can be solved with expert advice from a doctor online while the patient is at home.This can save you money on transport to the health facility.

African doctors online can also go ahead to provide health education, using telehealth, enabling those who can’t physically access them, to get the information using their phones(mHealth) or computers, just like we do here at these, you can learn about health issues like HIV, malaria, tuberculosis,pregnancy,living on a healthy diet,weight loss,etc, all from the comfort of your home.Of course in Africa, people have more mobile phones than computers due to big differences in cost.Health education through mHealth is very viable, considering that mobile phone penetration is rising steadily with about 67% of Africans having access to a mobile phone. With such reality, surely online doctors can bridge the physical gap between patients and physicians in Africa, thus increasing healthcare access for all.

About the author

Samuel Kagamba is a medical doctor,computer programmer and entrepreneur; very passionate about developing technologies to improve healthcare delivery in Africa.Off duty, he loves soccer and making new friends.Follow him on twitter
@samuelkagamba or email him at facebook account: Samuel Kagamba.

Samuel Kagamba – who has written posts on Aferdoc Blog.

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