To help improve the local primary healthcare in some of the most remote and impoverished areas of Africa.
These are places where people regularly walk or cycle long distances to their nearest clinic or referral hospital, and even then often receive inadequate treatment or diagnosis due to the centre being under-resourced.
The Virtual Doctors is a unique service.
Our simple telemedecine software, designed with rural Zambia in mind, connects remote health care workers, called Clinical Officers, with a panel of volunteer doctors who give diagnosis and treatment advice on complex cases.
As a result, patients are diagnosed more quickly and more often treated in their communities.
The Virtual Doctors service provides rural health centres with a smartphone loaded with our bespoke telemedicine software.
When a patient with a complex or unusual condition presents, the Clinical Officer creates a patient file with examination notes and photos and uploads it to the cloud. A doctor in the UK then reviews the file and offers diagnostic and treatment advice.
In 1998 British safari guide Huw Jones was driving through the remote Zambian bush when he suddenly came upon a trail of sticky blood on the dusty road.
After following the trail for several miles, Huw caught up with a heavily pregnant woman slumped on a bicycle as her husband pedalled frantically in the relentless heat to get her to the nearest hospital, some 60km away.
Despite Huw's efforts, after such huge loss of blood, the woman and her unborn baby died in the jeep on the way; but the concept for the Virtual Doctor service, which would use the internet to save lives in rural Africa, was born.
2007 Development of first concept of mobile clinics
2009 Charity registered under Virtual Development UK
2011 Initial trial of telemedicine concept in Kafue District, using one Virtual Doctor in New York and satellite communications
2013 Pilot project, using 20 Virtual Doctors and Fizzbook computers, launched in six rural health centres in partnership with the Ministry of Health, Zambia
2015 Development and launch of our bespoke telemedicine app, specifically designed for rural Zambia, and the use of smartphones
2016 Expansion of service in Zambia