eHEALTH: CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS IN KENYA

Posted: March 10, 2009 by Afyanet Africa in Uncategorized
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Diseases are part of the daily concerns of citizen and governments of most African countries. That is, millions of African die annually from AIDS, Malaria, etc. Most African governments have dedicated substantial resources to address these concerns; however, providing heath services to a growing population appear to be a

challenging endeavor. Ehealth initiatives offer some innovative solutions to overcome some of the obstacles. That is, the ability to bring closer health providers and patients through the use of Internet enabled services. Most of the existing literature primarily focuses on the particular ehealth technology (e.g. Telemedicine) and the users of the technology (e.g. physicians).

 

Why should Kenya embrace eHealth solutions?

 In Kenya eHealth solutions and applications are at their infancy. But this should not be so as patients are increasingly turning to Internet for medical solutions why is this so?

  • Patients are increasingly using the Internet to research medical conditions

  • Physicians view this behavior as a mixed blessing: on the one hand some patients are better informed, on the other hand patients may come in with a lot of misinformation that the physician has to spend time correcting

  • Some physicians are spending more time keeping up to date because patients who come in are better informed than they are

  • Face time with physicians is only about 10 minutes per visit

Medical patients in Kenya; one has to assume that these patients are middle class. Still, it points out an important truth: as long as people have uncensored Internet access (and understand written English) they can use all the sites that an American or other rich country resident can. Sure, not all the information is relevant, but much of it is.

There’s a chronic shortage of medical personnel in Africa and it’s not going to get a lot better anytime soon. On the other hand, access to the Internet is growing fast: partly through laptop and desktop computers, but also through cell phones. Finding ways for scarce and expensive doctors and nurses to leverage online medical information and decision support tools will be a key to improving access to quality health care for poor countries in all parts of the world.

Health 2.0 companies might also want to look to contributors from outside the rich countries. Although such contributors won’t be highly valued by advertisers and other sponsors, they are certainly capable of generating valuable content that can enhance the value of the site overall. I haven’t seen many Health 2.0 companies pursuing such a strategy explicitly, but I expect that to change within a year or so especially with the entry of Afyanet Africa into the market, a company dedicated to medical ICT information and networking of health care personnel in the east African region.

We should note that a time is coming when most patients will only go to the doctor for the prescription, since after consulting the Internet they know what they are suffering from. Hence more effort should be directed in developing accredited medical websites with local content and supervised by the ministry of health MOH or other government body such as Kenya medical association (KMA) Pharmacy and poisons board (PPB) etc.

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Comments
  1. Heather says:

    Thanks for your effort for composing “eHEALTH: CHALLENGES
    AND PROSPECTS IN KENYA | Afyanet Africa Blog”. I reallymay certainly wind up
    being returning for alot more reading and commenting
    soon. With thanks, Sergio

  2. john b. wachira says:

    e health is the way to go in terms of knowledge exchange for universal health care. medicine must be demystefied and there should be an appreciation that the patient must be kept at the centre of decision making in his/her health management.

  3. Charles says:

    There’s a chronic shortage of medical personnel in Africa and it’s not going to get a lot better anytime soon. On the other hand, access to the Internet is growing fast: partly through laptop and desktop computers, but also through cell phones. Finding ways for scarce and expensive doctors and nurses to leverage online medical information and decision support tools will be a key to improving access to quality health care for poor countries in all parts of the world.

  4. John says:

    Yeah, clearly need to do something

  5. jp@yahoo.com says:

    thats cool but what are you guys doing about it?

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