South African rural hospitals get hi-tech support

doctor.jpgThe MTN South Africa Foundation has committed to providing bandwidth required to assist with a new project to provide four primary healthcare telemedicine workstations that will be established at rural hospitals in South Africa’s Free State province.

The first of the four workstations, primarily funded by the Innovation Fund, an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology, will be installed in the Botshabelo community. The telemedicine workstations were developed by the Stellenbosch University and South Africa’s Medical Research Council (MRC).

The launch of the new project was held at the Botshabelo District Hospital in Bloemfontein on 12 March 2009. Speaking at the launch Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, Derek Hanekom, emphasized the role of science and technology in assisting service departments to work faster and smarter.

MRC President, Professor Tony Mbewu said: “Telemedicine technology allows patients to receive comprehensive care at a local clinic or hospital instead of being referred to a tertiary hospital with the appropriate services. This reduces the cost of unnecessary patient transfers and saves the patient valuable time and expenses when away from work or their family.”

The project forms part of the South African National Telemedicine Strategy, that seeks to integrate the healthcare system by connecting and giving support to remote and rural medical centers of South Africa and most importantly, strengthening referral systems.