Virtual doctors pilot telemedicine in Malawi

Post was last updated: July 3, 2019

By Peter Kanjere:

TIMELY—James Thamanga, Nsaru Health Centre clinical officer,
screens a patient with Virtual Doctors device

Virtual Doctors (VDrs) of the United Kingdom (UK) have commended TNM Plc for supporting the pilot phase of the telemedicine project being implemented in Lilongwe, helping people from rural areas access specialist doctors.

Telemedicine, which is the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology, is being piloted by six VDrs in a pilot project initiated in 2018.

In a statement, VDrs Executive Director, Huw Jones, says TNM’s contribution in cash and telecommunications support would help provide equitable access to medical service for those in rural areas.

The initial part of the pilot phase has reached out to 100 cases.

“The effective implementation of telemedicine depends on a number of technologies for its success. Through the partnership, TNM has reaffirmed its commitment of being an enabler of such projects. With the partnership, the simplicity and scalability of our service model means that we could expand our reach to make our service available to over 400,000 people in the short term,” Jones says.

VDrs is a UK-based charity that helps rural health workers in Africa to connect to doctors and medical specialists in the UK who respond with diagnosis and treatment advice.

During the pilot phase, TNM provided mobile internet to five doctors and contributed $4,500 (K3,415,500) to facilitate logistics for the pilot project.

TNM Head of Marketing, Sobhuza Ngwenya, says TNM was committed to contributing to society through innovative connectivity solutions.

“The Malawi health sector remains one of the highly challenged in Malawi society. Mobility and accessibility affect the provision of improved service delivery to rural masses, where the majority of our fellow citizens live. As an integrated communications company, we felt obliged to support this telemedicine initiative to strengthen the reach of improved health services to all Malawians through our technology,” Ngwenya says.

Kamuzu Central Hospital Director, Jonathan Ngoma, said it was the wish of all health practitioners to provide their services to all Malawians.

“Sometimes, we fail to reach the people because of distance and connectivity. Telemedicine is going to help us reach more people in rural areas where specialist doctors are not present all the time,” Ngoma says.

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