By Anthony Mutunga
Things got worse for the healthcare industry across the world because of Covid-19 crisis. A Reuters’ May 2020 survey established that African nations, for instance, faced a surge of coronavirus cases with most hospitals having less than one intensive care bed and one ventilator per 100,000 people.
It needed a miracle to get out of the ugly situation. For months, most countries lacked the capacity to nit only test for the virus but also trace contacts and isolate the confirmed, and suspected cases. Vaccines were also hard to come by – African countries were forced to depend on international institutions and capable economies for assistance with medical equipment and vaccines.
There were also instances where some could not react in time because most of their hospitals lacked enough doctors as well as beds to accommodate the rising cases. As we enter a period of transition (post pandemic), how can the healthcare industry be improved? How can it be better prepared to tackle what the future brings? Can technology solutions take the industry to the next level?
Digital Afrique Telecom has collaborated with Ever Medical Technologies, a move that will modernise Africa’s healthcare industry through technology. Ever Medical offers digital healthcare including electronic healthcare records applications, healthcare interoperability solutions through a blockchain based health information exchange, data mining and machine learning applications, telemedicine and tele pharmacy applications. Digital Afrique Telecom, on the other hand, is expected to implement technology solutions.
The partnership breathes life to a healthcare industry that for a long time has been quite inefficient – it will go a long way, especially in Kenya where many hospitals and clinics in rural and remote places lack the up-to-date equipment and technology. Priority for health facilities will be to reinvent their ability to handle medical cases in an era of technology.
Digital Africa and Ever Medical teams up at a time when the government plans to roll out a telemedicine programme across the country in bid to improve access to healthcare particularly in the remote and marginalised regions.
Already, the Communications Authority of Kenya has set aside Sh600 million to fund the laying out of the foundation for telemedicine in 20 health facilities. And while the country is yet to enact laws regulating telemedicine – e-Health guidelines were developed in 2019 –, the importance of technology in the health industry must be acknowledged. Should the digital health rules be approved and subsequently gazetted, there will be a base for the full rollout of telemedicine services. This will help many hospitals and clinics especially those in rural and remote places that lack the up-to-date equipment and technology.