Trustees and supporters of the Virtual Doctors were joined at the Royal Geographic Society last night (Thursday, 17th March) by celebrities, politicians, medical and business professionals and technology specialists to hear about the work of the charity delivering a ground breaking telemedicine service into rural health Centres in Zambia. His Excellency, Mr Muyeba Chikonde, the High Commissioner for Zambia in the UK was the guest of honour and was joined by over 100 guests in the historic hall.
During the presentations, Huw Jones, the founder of the charity and who is a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society, held the audience spellbound as he shared his emotive story of what inspired him to want to help those in rural Zambia. Several years ago, after coming across a desperate man trying to cycle with his heavily pregnant and hemorrhaging wife to a hospital along a dirt road, 60 kilometers distant, describing his inadequate attempts to help and his utter sense of helplessness when she passed away in his vehicle en route, he decided that he needed to do something. But what? After talking to Doctors in other countries he realised that there was a lot of people who had the professional ability and wanted to help too but were too far away – the solution was obvious – telemedicine! Huw said "there is a revolution sweeping the continent of Africa – a mobile technology revolution - and it is possible to connect doctors anywhere in the world with remote health centres in rural Zambia. My dream is coming true and with the support of others we are beginning to offer help to reduce unnecessary referrals. The poor lady on the bicycle could not be saved but the sheer determination of her husband has spurred me on and I truly believe that the Virtual Doctors Service will help to save lives in the future".
Jones went on to say "During the event we took the opportunity to officially launch our newly designed bespoke software app that has taken our service to a new level. We invited our guest of honour, His Excellency, to present a very special Spotlight Award to recognise the contribution of the group of volunteers from our pro bono supporter Landmark Information Group. After listening to the clinic officers and doctors they spent many hours of personal time to develop a new mobile telemedicine application specifically for the needs of rural health workers in Zambia. The app has been designed to transform the way rural health centres in Zambia access vital advice, diagnosis and treatment support from a pool of qualified doctors in the UK, in order to deliver vital patient care to patients located in isolated communities".
Huw was joined, during the formal presentation part of the event, by colleagues David Dutton (Trustee), Dr Fran Fieldhouse (Medical Director), Samantha Ashton (Volunteer from Landmark Information Group), and His Excellency, Mr Muyeba Chikonde, who gave the vote of thanks. His Excellency, who has been extremely supportive of the work of the charity to date said "we are very pleased that the service is being offered in Zambia and want to thank the staff and supporters for enabling it." He said there is a word in his language "Ubuntu", which means selflessness, doing something for others and suggested that we can all take learning and example from this goodwill and generosity".
His Excellency was joined by his diplomatic colleagues Mr Donald Pelekamoyo, the First Secretary of Tourism, Ms Millica Mutale, the First Secretary of Administration and Mrs Abigail Chaponda, the First Secretary for Press.
If you would like to find out more about the work of the Virtual Doctors or make a donation to help their work please contact firstname.lastname@example.org