Ethiopia: Telemedicine, to Expand Access to Essential Healthcare Service

Needless to say that technology is making things easier; and changing the life style of every individual including each of their activities; even those once were tough and unthinkable to accomplish. Ranging from the different types of technological devices we are using in our day-to-day activities at home, workplace and other areas, to our personal gadgets, the ever morphing and expanding technologies are impacting peoples' life hugely.

Particularly, the advent of cellular phone and personal computers is making the lives of many people much easier and simpler than before. The technology has enabled users to interact and communicate better, exchange information simply and fast; and stay informed. The other best part of it is that it has enabled people to hold effective healthcare delivery as pretty as in-person interactions.

Such type of healthcare service, known as telemedicine, in fact, has been practiced for long even before the introduction of cellular phones or personal computers (PCs) as other telecommunication technologies have been used for this same purpose -for the delivery of healthcare services. However, the innovation of these technologies has made the service more comfortable, easy and effective means.

As researches indicate, the first medical record transfer occurred in Pennsylvania in 1940 when radiology images were sent 24 miles between two towns over telephone lines. However, the arrival of the internet and the dawning of the mobile age have changed all that. Especially, telemedicine turned out to be an ideal solution in rural areas with limited access to healthcare.

Now there are easy to use applications for PCs and mobile devices that allow patients to connect with their doctor from anywhere. This makes it possible for patients to receive primary, urgent, and specialty care without the need for an in-person visit. Recently, Ministry of health, in collaboration with International Centre for AIDS Care and Treatment Program (ICAP) Ethiopia and health institutions, has announced its effort to implement telemedicine across the country.

In an event organized to introduce the guidelines of telemedicine plus to facilitate the service, Abas Hassen, Clinical Service Director with the Ministry of Health said that the Ministry has set up a system that enables patients get medical support while they are in their own respective areas without appearing in person through using modern technologies- mobile phones, video conferencing or some other media.

"The Ministry is working to expand telemedicine services across the country using modern technologies to ensure equity and accessibility to the health sector." As to him, the service, after it is implemented in seven health institutions as an initial move, it would be scaled up to other institutions subsequent to its viability The health institutes and universities selected to conduct the initial telemedicine service are Black Lion, St Petros, Yekatit 12, Hiwot Fana, ALERT hospitals and Jimma and Gondar universities, it was learnt. The institutions also awarded with tablets.

Telemedicine is a modern technology that enables patients to interact with health practitioners and get treatment through their own mobile phones or PCs, supported by images, texts, or audios and get healthcare services in areas wherever they are; replacing face-to-face or averting physical visit.

The technology is also cost-effective in comparison to the process of waiting to see a doctor or other healthcare provider. Especially these days, while COVID-19 is causing unprecedented threats on the global community and physical distancing is one of the risk factor for the spread of the pandemic, telemedicine is a perfect way out.


More From: Ethiopian Herald

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