Lamu patients now have access to earlier, cheaper and better diagnosis and treatment as well as better follow-up care through remote specialized consultations, medical education, and monitoring.
In Lamu County, a remote area of east Kenya stretching across mainland and over 65 islands, residents face extremely limited access to healthcare. Many medical professionals prefer to work in cities such as Nairobi or Mombasa, and there is a lack of specialists with just 2 doctors to every 10,000 patients. At Lamu County Hospital many staff haven’t even received basic life-support training and are unable to give their patients the level of care they want to provide. This is forcing Lamu’s residents to travel great distances to reach medical facilities with 86% of patients spending more on transport than on healthcare.
But now Lamu’s residents will have access to care-at-a-distance through the telemedicine project initiated by Huawei, Safaricom and local partners, which allows local healthcare workers and patients to remotely consult with specialists in towns and cities. For Lamu residents such as Zainab who had had to travel long distances at enormous cost just to receive a diagnosis and ongoing treatment for her hypertension, this new remote consultation is life-changing.
Given the scarcity of licensed doctors and specialists in Lamu, telemedicine will transform medical care for low-income families in the region who incur vast travel expenses to reach professional care. In fact, telemedicine is set to reduce travel time by up to 12 hours and travel costs by $20 per patient; and 50% more patients will attend referrals each year, leading to significantly better patient outcomes.