Tanzania’s Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (Muhas) with The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have entred into joinyt pact aimed at advanced the provision of quality health care in rural areas.
The pact also aimed at formalising the partnership around the Digital Village Health Innovation programme in a remote Maasai village in Arusha Region.
The partnership envisaged concept of tele-medicine makes use of modern and digital technology, and its operationalisation provides a model for improved use of the 21st technologies in the advancement of health provision in the country.
Speaking yesterday in Dar es Salaam after signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) the country’s resident director of UNESCO Zulmira Rodriguez revealed that the pact started as a pilot project in Ololosokwan village, Loliondo.
According to her, among other things the project intends to reduce maternal deaths.
She said that the established digitalised village clinic in Loliondo is the first one in Tanzania and the fourth one across the African continent.
Rodriguez said that the intervention is the first telehealth pilot connecting all levels of Tanzanian healthcare system providing a test case for integrating telehealth services within the zonal health system in Tanzania.
According to Rodriguez the pact will involve medical specialists from MUHAS and other areas around the world providing maternal and infant care, dental and ENT services in remote areas.
The remote digital clinic is a live innovation platform for testing health services provision in maternal and infant care, dental and ENT services that utilise connectivity and smart technologies.
“The new strategies and tools to connect the rural dispensary with the national and international health care and training resources will be explored to extend the outreach of specialised health care services to rural populations,” she said.
For his part, MUHAS deputy Vice Chancellor Academic, Prof Eligius Lyamula said that special focus would also be given to support the development of the outreach component of the medical specialists professional development.
He said that the telemedicine services will primarily focus on obstetric and dental care before venturing into other fields whereby a team of medical experts from the university will be serving the populations.
“With modern technology this does not have to be the case anymore, barriers of distance and time can be easily overcome. We have taken the first steps to make this opportunity a reality and develop the services that can be applied in Tanzania,” she explained.
E-health coordinator from the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Lighgi Vumilia said that the government was deeply committed to advance innovation in healthcare delivery.
“Ololosokwan will be connected with other zonal and even international health facilities to explore the possibilities for remote support, consultations and learning in practice. The project will be a model for improving modern rural healthcare through collaboration and connectivity,” he said.
According to him, remote populations are most vulnerable and still excluded from the benefits of connectivity or innovation. Nationwide barely 12 per cent of households are located within 30 minutes walking from of healthcare facilities.
“It is important that we develop implementable solutions for inclusive quality care. We can succeed by working together, by linking the local and international health experts to support each other and grow together to be better health professionals and make a positive impact where it’s needed the most,” he added.