Safaricom M-PESA Foundation committed Ksh 168 million to a program named Daktari Smart. This three-year telemedicine program aims to use telemedicine technology to link and treat 32,400 children in six hard-to-reach counties in Kenya. The program is in partnership with Gertrude’s Hospital Foundation. During the first phase, it will pilot in Samburu, Homabay, Baringo, and Lamu counties. Thereafter, two more counties will be included in the next phase of the program. Gertrude’s Hospital Foundation will also commit Ksh 35 million over the three years to support the cause.
The Aim of Daktari Smart Program
This morning we launched #DaktariSmart, a three-year telemedicine program that will link the much-needed specialized healthcare to children in hard-to-reach counties, while developing appropriate data and information to support paediatric healthcare in the country. pic.twitter.com/TzWRd4z1zB
— Peter Ndegwa (@PeterNdegwa_) November 17, 2021
Through a press release, Safaricom stated that Daktari Smart “aims to reduce the number of referrals of sick children by allowing county health facilities to have access to specialists”. Similarly, the program will streamline healthcare service delivery across the affected counties. By so doing, the two stakeholders will be helping underprivileged children from remote Kenyan counties access high-quality healthcare.
Healthcare access is one of the biggest challenges in Kenya and Africa as a whole, especially in remote regions. The Kenyan Medical and Dentist board KMPDB revealed a staggering statistic. It showed that the doctor-to-patient ratio is about one doctor for every 6,355 patients, which is significantly high. What’s even worse is that the ratio to specialist doctors is much higher.
For instance, counties participating in this program have one or no specialist doctors for children. Thus, this is a much-needed program. Safaricom believes that by committing to this program, they will be taking part in corporate social responsibility and helping to alleviate the challenge of healthcare access in the country.
Roles of the Two Partners in This Program
As a leading telecommunication company in Africa, Safaricom PLC brings a world of expertise in ICT into this program. It will provide connectivity between the various local health facilities and Gertrude’s Hospital. Most of the counties selected have poor connectivity issues. But, Safaricom made sure that the Daktari Smart platform will require a low bandwidth ranging from 512 Kbps to 2 Mbps. This will ensure seamless connection without fiber internet.
On the other hand, Gertrude’s Hospital will provide the medical expertise, including personnel, equipment, and services required in the program. During the launch of Daktari Smart, Les Baillie, the Chairman of Gertrude’s Hospital Foundation, said,
“Our mission as Gertrude’s Hospital Foundation is to transform communities by improving access to quality healthcare services to needy and disadvantaged children in the country. This involves embracing innovation and technology, as well as research. The Daktari Smart program will enable us to provide the much-needed specialist care to children in far-flung areas, as well as develop appropriate data and information to support pediatric healthcare in the country.”
Insights on Daktari Smart Program
Daktari Smart is a tech bundle that involves a wide range of electronic medical devices. These include a vital signs monitor, electrocardiogram (ECG), derma scope camera, electronic stethoscope, ultrasound machine, and an otoscope. These are devices that health workers and specialists will use during the program. High consideration was observed when choosing the devices to cover a variety of health problems facing children in rural areas.
Daktari Smart includes advanced video conferencing that will allow a local health worker to diagnose a patient at a local health facility and electronically and remotely communicate the findings with a specialist based in Gertrude’s Hospital.
M-PESA Foundation also noted that extensive training would be provided to 300 health workers in local healthcare facilities to promote capacity building. More so, 360 social workers and community health volunteers (CHVs) will be trained to help with social mobilization at the local level.
Benefits of the Program
2/2 scale these solutions to support access to quality paediatric healthcare and a healthy workforce that will build sustainable businesses and generate economic growth. #DaktariSmart
— Peter Ndegwa (@PeterNdegwa_) November 17, 2021
Apart from improving pediatric healthcare access to rural areas in Kenya, this program will impact several sectors, too. One of the most immediate effects will be job creation for the local community of health workers and the workforce that will be involved in various capacities during the period. The training programs will also equip the health workers with skills to handle technologies never seen before to some of them. Ultimately, this program will be a holistic driver of economic and social growth in rural communities.