Safaricom
From left, Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital Dr Robert Nyarango, Gertrude’s Children’s Foundation Chairman Les Baille, Safaricom PLC CEO Peter Ndegwa, M-PESA Foundation Chairman Michael Joseph hold a dummy cheque worth Kes168 million at the launch of Daktari Smart telemedicine program at Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital in Muthaiga.

The Gertrude Hospital Foundation has partnered with M-PESA Foundation to run Daktari Smart telemedicine, an initiative that will see over 32,000 children gain access to doctors.

The project is billed to help reduce the number of referrals of sick children by allowing county health centres to access specialists.

It will be piloted in Samburu, Homabay, Baringo and Lamu counties, with two other devolved units set to be on boarded soon.

The initiative is also expected to optimize the capacity and reach of healthcare delivery systems in Kenya.

M-PESA Foundation will channel over Kes168 million towards the initiative while Gertrude’s Hospital Foundation will invest at least Kes35 million in the next three years.

According to the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board, the doctor to patient ratio currently stands at about one for every 6,355 people a scenarion that portends difficulties in getting access to a qualified medical services.

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This ratio worsens further when it comes to specialists, with the participating counties in this program having only one or no paediatrician for thousands of children in those areas.

Commenting on the initiative, M-PESA Foundation Chairman Michael Joseph said “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.”

Gertrude’s Hospital Foundation Chairman Les Baillie said “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.”

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 between 512Kbps to 2Mbps.

This implies 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 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.

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