Government is set to introduce tele-medicine in all rural health facilities beginning in January 2016, following the signing of a $300 000 agreement by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) last month.
Tele-medicine is the use of telecommunication and information technologies to provide clinical health care using two-way communication between the patient and a healthcare provider.
Information Communication Technologies, Postal and Courier Services permanent secretary, Engineer Sam Kundishora, said the project was envisaged to see an improvement in the delivery and provision of cost effective and accessible health services, particularly to people in rural areas.
“The tele-medicine services will make use of the broadband network that is based at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals which is going to be extended to provincial, district as well as rural health facilities,” said Eng Kundishora.
Eng Kundishora said tele-medicine helped eliminate distance barriers and could improve access to medical services that would otherwise not be available in outlying communities.
“Under the project, the Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier Services will be assisted by the ITU in the development and setting up of electronic health sector regulations,” said Eng Kundishora.
In a statement, Potraz acting director-general, Mr Baxton Sirewu, said the development was a giant step in making ICTs relevant to all Zimbabweans.
“ICTs have become a vital component in Zimbabwe’s overall development objectives. The telemedicine project is a step towards safeguarding the welfare, prosperity and enduring happiness of all our citizens,” said Mr Sirewu.
He said the project would in no doubt improve the processes of consultation, diagnosis, treatment, distant learning in medical updates and prevention of epidemics.