The Virtual Doctors at Lancing College

The Virtual Doctors raise awareness about the charity’s telemedicine service at Lancing College

Trustees and supporters of the Virtual Doctors were joined at Lancing College on Wednesday, 20th September by guest of honour, the Deputy High Commissioner of Malawi, and local dignitaries the Mayor and Mayoress of Worthing, (Mr and Mrs Harman), and Cllr Peter Metcalfe, the Chair of Adur District Council, politicians, medical and business professionals to hear about the work of the charity delivering a ground breaking telemedicine service into rural health Centres in Zambia and which is about to be launched in Malawi.  The event was held by courtesy of staff and pupils of Lancing College and a number of the school’s Medical Group students were present on the evening.  The audience were given insight into the work of this small charity who have local offices nearby.  The school have a strong track record of pupils supporting other causes who operate in Malawi and have already helped to make an impact on the work of the Virtual Doctors.

Huw Jones, the founder of the charity 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 haemorrhaging wife to a hospital along a dirt road, 60 kilometres 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 sub-Saharan Africa.   My dream is coming true and with the support of others we are beginning to offer help to reduce unnecessary referrals that will make a real difference.  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”.

During the event the presenters gave insight into the bespoke software app designed on a pro bono basis by a volunteer team at Landmark Information Group that has literally taken this telemedicine service to a new level.   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 volunteer doctors in the UK, by harnessing the power of mobile phone technology, in order to deliver vital patient care to patients located in isolated communities. 

The proceedings were opened by Mrs Hilary Dugdale, Senior Deputy Head of Lancing College, and the Deputy High Commissioner for Malawi, Ms Quent Kalichero who was representing the High Commission for Malawi in the UK,  Mr Kena Mphonda said “we are very pleased that the service will be offered in Malawi and want to thank the Virtual Doctors, their staff and generous supporters for enabling it to be delivered in our country.” 

If you would like to find out more about the work of the Virtual Doctors and how you can help by getting involved or by making a badly needed donation then please contact enquiries@virtualdoctors.org or call Lina on 01273 454755.

Lina WoehrlingComment