This project will enable remote Tanzanian Maasai communities to access the services of a qualified doctor at a fixed time each week via videoconference. Currently, patients must walk up to 6 hours or face high transport fees to see a doctor. This is infeasible for many, so patients resort to traditional remedies or wait weeks before seeking treatment, by which time it can be too late. Our telehealth hubs will enable remote communities to receive healthcare access at reduced cost, time and effort
Half the world's population cannot obtain essential health services (WHO, 2019), and to access even basic healthcare in remote communities of sub-Saharan Africa requires a walk of hours, even days (The Lancet, 2020). This time, cost and effort to access healthcare often results in patients not seeking treatment until it is too late, and prevents health authorities from identifying the primary health challenges facing remote populations. This project will impact >20,000 rural, unserved villagers.
In each remote unserved community, a pop-up telehealth hub containing basic diagnostic equipment and a video conferencing device, will be run by a trained, local operator. Patients will have diagnostic measurements taken at the hub and have their consultation with a doctor entirely via videoconference. Prescribed medicine will be delivered in batches, with the long journey to the doctor only required in emergencies, significantly reducing unnecessary transport times and costs for patients.
With easier, cheaper access to healthcare professionals, villagers will seek advice earlier and more frequently. Our preliminary trials were oversubscribed, showing the high service demand. This will lead to an overall improvement in health outcomes of these remote populations with >20000 residents each, as illnesses are diagnosed and treated earlier and more effectively. In turn, health authorities will gain more data to better understand the primary health challenges facing these communities.