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  • on 15.09.2014
  • at 05:00 PM
  • by Kevin Hind

Mobile technology supports frontline health workers 0

Could telemedicine solve challenges facing South Africa’s overstretched healthcare services? Munyaradzi Makoni reports. 

Primary healthcare in South Africa is notoriously overstretched and under-resourced, making the daily demands of record-keeping, home visits and patient monitoring a challenge for workers.

Telemedicine — the remote provision of healthcare using information and communications technology (ICT) — holds great promise for a country with a shortage of healthcare workers. It is also an opportunity for innovative private-service providers.

Mobenzi, a company that provides technology and professional services to organisations involved in research, statistics collection, logistics and community service delivery, provided the answer.

Using a mobile-powered programme that aims to manage healthcare more efficiently, Mobenzi has become the backbone of a project to reengineer public healthcare.

Previously, all record-keeping, reporting and planning was paper-based, severely limiting timely access to information, says Andi Friedman, Mobenzi’s director.

“The logistical and administrative burden on public healthcare workers jeopardises the ability of these teams to deliver on their mandate to provide efficient primary healthcare, and lack of data makes decision-making difficult,” he says.

Mobenzi has radically streamlined this process, he adds.

A portmanteau of ‘mobile’ and the Zulu word ‘umsebenzi’ (which means work), Mobenzi enables community health workers to feed information into their mobile phones, which then sends state of patient’s health to a centralised computer system.

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By Munyaradzi MakoniSciDev

Photo credit: Healthcare Global 

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