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  • Writer's pictureThe Virtual Doctors

Lessons from Luumbo on the Power of Partnerships in Digital Advancement

The difficulties associated with accessing secondary healthcare services from Luumbo are numerous: the long drive to Lusaka along poor roads, the cost of transport which can be prohibitive for low-income communities and the need to arrange accommodation for family members.

The clinic in Luumbo also provides healthcare services to individuals from outside the catchment area, due to the distances that surrounding communities must travel to reach other facilities.

On an average day, a Clinical Officer (CO) attends to a minimum of 30 patients. Network connectivity has been a challenge, particularly when contacting the next level of care or requesting an ambulance for patient referrals.

A smartphone application developed by N50 Project partner Virtual Doctors has removed some of these barriers by connecting COs at Luumbo’s Health Center with volunteer doctors in the United Kingdom. Following initial training on how to use the app, there has been encouraging uptake, with local healthcare providers being given the opportunity to access a broader knowledge base and expand their learning through sharing case studies with their peers on a monthly basis.

“The Virtual Doctors app provides me with a convenient way to seek advice and receive informative responses. Moreover, it has reduced the number of referrals to higher levels of care. The interactive nature of the app allows me to ask questions when I encounter difficulties, enabling quick decision-making that can save lives.”

Dorcas Tembo, General Clinical Officer

The ease of use of the app allows seamless transitions when staff are transferred to new roles and the dedication of Luumbo’s Clinical Officers has been instrumental in providing quality healthcare to the community. The growth in learning has been evidenced by the fact that CO’s have subsequently become more selective about which cases they refer.

Between February 2022 and May 2023, a total of 74 cases were referred to Virtual Doctors. These included remotely supporting a CO to perform a bladder washout in a patient with a urinary tract infection.

Virtual Doctors is also working with the District Health Office to share data which can help to identify the spread of specific diseases and highlight gaps in provision. The next phase includes plans to onboard local doctors to increase areas of specialisation.

“It has been a great opportunity for me to interact with doctors from different backgrounds and learn from their expertise,”

Lazarus Mulekelwa, Medical Licentiate.

Click below to read the report in full:

STRONGER TOGETHER Luumbo White Paper September 2023
Download PDF • 1.09MB


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