Technology has mostly been embraced by many for making our lives easier as it advances with time. In this period where physical social interactions are limited, the Kenyan health sector among other sectors, had to find a way to keep offering their services without jeopardising anyone’s health, and telehealth services was their solution. Telehealth, also known as telemedicine, refers to the use of electronic communication to distribute health-related services through telecommunication technologies. It allows patients to consult with doctors directly without visiting the hospitals, be diagnosed and prescribed medicines which is more affordable, convenient and easily accessible.
It was launched around 2015 by the first lady Margaret Kenyatta with the aim to improve the delivery of primary health care inclusive of the rural areas. However in 2019, when the first case of covid-19 was reported, the Kenya Medicine Practitioners and Dentists Council (KMPDC) approved about 20 health institutions to offer telemedicine services due to the need for virtual care, following the covid-19 regulations. They also developed guidelines to control the telemedicine services. James Macharia, who was once the cabinet secretary for health, urged stakeholders and county governments to invest on telemedicine so as to enable the poor to access specialised services.
Many health professionals and institutions have developed their own telemedicine programmes and means for them to offer virtual care to many people in the country. Examples include the Teleafya app, Sema-Doc(hello doctor), which is a phone-based service launched by the first lady, SASAdoctor, which is a virtual clinic and many others that have taken part in offering the telehealth services. These services have their own advantages and disadvantages but it’s guaranteed that they can work effectively. Both the medical practitioners and the patients find them convenient compared to the traditional method of physically visiting the hospital, especially during this pandemic period.
In conclusion, e-health services should be highly considered, since the Covid-19 virus and many other factors that inhibit physical contact, such as communicable diseases, need to be avoided. The health professionals should also be trained on how to provide the virtual care services and people should be encouraged to opt for telehealth services. This will greatly improve our country’s health sector and contribute to a safer health care.
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Kenya launches telemedicine initiative for the poor – Sub-Saharan Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa. (2021).
Madegwa, D. (2021). Telemedicine Gains Pace In Kenya as KMPDC approves 20 Hospitals to roll out services amid Covid-19 containment measures – Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council. Kmpdc.go.ke.