primary healthcare in Zambia
too few doctors
There are far too few doctors in Zambia – only 1600 for a population of over 14 million.
This means patients are often not properly treated, so their condition deteriorates.
doctors in the wrong place
Two thirds of doctors live in urban areas; two thirds of the population live in rural Zambia.
They then have to walk or cycle for many hours, or even days, to reach a district hospital.
Under-equipped rural health centres
Consequently, most rural health centres are under-staffed and under-equipped.
1 in 9 children will not reach the age of 5*
13.5% of the adult population are HIV+*
* World Health Organisation 2013
telemedicine helps solve these problems
The Zambian Ministry of Health's e-Health Strategy 2013-2016 included telemedicine in its strategic priorities. It accepted the “need to embrace and promote telemedicine… by developing a comprehensive framework, guidelines and operational model on its use.”
There is also growing academic research into telemedicine. Salatian et al (1) note 'benefits at federal, state and community level...across all political parties, religious dogmas, village councils and tribal and ethnic groups."
Research to prove the value of telemedicine to healthcare workers in rural Kenya compared face to face consultations with submitted telemedicine case files for the same sample of patients. Medical feedback was consistent between the two methods in 78% of cases; and treatment advice was consistent between the two methods in 89% of cases (2).
1. Salatian, A., Zivkovic, J. and Ademoh, F. (2012) Telemedicine for Rural Sub-Saharan Africa - Benefits and Drawbacks. Allied Academies International Conference, Academy of Health Care Management 9(1), pp. 9-13
2. Qin, R., Dzombak, R., Amin, R. and Mehta, K. (2013) Reliability of a Telemedicine System Designed for Rural Kenya. Journal of Primary Care & Community Health, Vol. 4, No. 3, pp. 177- 181