The maiden West Africa International Health Summit (WAIHS) which was under the theme: “Collaborating through networking and technology for improved healthcare in Africa” has ended in Accra.
Participants at the programme formed a working group dubbed “Continental Africa Telemedicine Alliance (CATA)” to lobby regulatory groups across the continent to push through the agenda of telemedicine across the African continent.
Speaking in an interview with the media, the Interim Executive Secretary for the eight members CATA, Madam Karen Hendrickson, explained that the formation of CATA would seek to establish an advocacy group to deal with the various regulatory bodies across Africa in order for the continent to be at par with the rest of the world when it comes to telemedicine practice.
“We will not wait for a longer period before deciding that Africa is ready for telemedicine, we want to be at the forefront”. Mad. Hendrickson hinted.
She stated further that: “The idea behind the alliance is to bring practitioners together to identify challenges, and opportunities, and also engage governmental organisations across the continent to form a working relationship to remove all bottlenecks, and challenges which hamper smooth inter-country operations”.
Madam Hendrickson revealed that there are more patients than doctors across the continent, and most patients who do not have access to doctors are at remote areas; however, most people own mobile phones – which will enable a further reach, especially for specialised disciplines such as dermatology or neurology wherein one would not typically find a specialist in such remote areas.
Telemedicine, essentially, is the use of telecommunication and information technology to provide clinical health care from a distance. It has been used to overcome distance barriers in the more advanced countries, and improve access to medical services that would often not be consistently available in distant rural communities.
With the launch of this alliance, it is expected to improve health delivery in Africa.
For instance, with the aid of telemedicine, a patient does not have to travel long distance to access health care.
According to experts, it will also eliminate any chances of transmitting infectious diseases from a patient to the health care professional, saves time, offers time-efficient solutions and reduces costs significantly.
The most important aspect of telemedicine is its ability to cater for the needs of patients from any place at any given time.
Telemedicine is highly beneficial for occupational medicine, and helps to formulate an efficient and reliable healthcare plan.
Story: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH
Writer’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org