India telemedicine to boost MDG in Africa

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By Emmanuel Mayah.

The performance of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in some African countries might soon experience a leap following a new plan by India to provide telemedicine and tele-education as part of its new engagement strategy with the continent.

This revelation was made by Ms Tumusiime Rhoda, the Peace Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Africa Union Commission. The occasion was in Addis Ababa, at a symposium Saturday 21 on India-Africa media partnership.

The health-related Millennium Development Goals were created to expressly address the main elements of the health crisis in the developing world.

The targets are to reduce infant mortality by two-thirds by the year 2015; increase efforts to improve maternal health while aiming to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other diseases.

Four years to the target year, the MDG especially the health-related goals remain dismal and off-track.

The telemedicine initiative will among other things provide on-line trainings for nurses; a skilled-improvement seen as key, in the face of about half a million women dying every year from pregnancy-related causes in developing countries and about five million children dying before their fifth birthdays.

Proponents of the new India’s partnership with Africa describe telemedicine, sometimes called e-medicine, as the use of telecommunication to provide medical information and services.

Using multimedia technology or videoconferencing equipment to transmit voice, video and data; telemedicine has enabled medical experts in one country to provide consultancy to a hospital in another country.

The process make high quality healthcare available to traditionally under-privileged population or to rural communities with inadequate medical facilities.

Emphasising that their country share common challenges with Africa which can be solved using same solutions, the Indians say that just like Africa the majority of secondary and tertiary healthcare facilities in their country are in cities and towns while the rural areas were faced with poor quality healthcare services.

Then there was the problem of retaining doctors in rural areas especially the specialist doctors. These challenges they say are being reversed using telemedicine. India announces it is offering the same solution to Africans, a continent where hospitals are plagued with the problem of inadequate infrastructure and expertise.

There are also a large number of patients that require referral for specialty care and with brain drain, especially in Nigeria where the good doctors and nurses have fled to the US, Europe and Middle East in search of greener pastures, hospitals both in urban and rural areas are struggling with low-availability of health experts.

Writing in The Economic Times of New Delhi, Dhoot Vikas quoted one Indian official as saying that while “China would build a power plant for the locals and a railway line to a mining site that would only help it extract minerals out of the place”, India is helping Africa to develop itself.

The telemedicine project will not only help raise skill standards in Africa through trainings, a significant proportion of patients in Africa could be successfully managed with some advice and guidance from specialists in far-away India.

 

  • Africa-India Summit
  • Africa-India Summit
  • Africa-India Summit
  • Africa-India Summit
  • Africa-India Summit
  • Africa-India Summit
  • Africa-India Summit
  • Africa-India Summit
  • Africa-India Summit
  • Africa-India Summit