Review

Telehealth during COVID-19: why Sub-Saharan Africa is yet to log-in to virtual healthcare?

  • Received: 31 October 2020 Accepted: 10 February 2021 Published: 25 February 2021
  • Telehealth is the use of technology to achieve remote care. This technology can be synchronous or asynchronous. The use of Telehealth increased during the pandemic in the developed countries. On the contrary, telehealth is not fully utilized in public healthcare in many Sub-Saharan African states. This editorial explores the benefits of the adoption of virtual care in public healthcare during COVID-19 pandemic. Benefits of telehealth include efficient stretching of healthcare resources, forward triaging, prevention of medical personnel infection, aiding medical students' clinical observation and participation, and assurance of social support for patients. The absence of policy and political will, inadequate funding, cost of sustenance of telehealth services, patient and healthcare personnel bias on telehealth, willingness to pay and the peculiar challenges in each country are identified limiting factors to the use of Telehealth in Sub-Saharan Africa. We affirm that the foundation to full implementation of Telehealth services in Sub-Saharan African states lies within government political will. Further, the creation of policy framework for telehealth, removal of telecommunication company monopoly, utilization of cloud-based processing telehealth systems, development of telehealth software with broadband efficiency that fits Sub-Saharan clime, the introduction of telehealth training into medical school curriculums, and research and development of user-interface that fits the peculiarities of Sub-Saharan Africa are the solutions we propose to change the current narrative of virtual care in Sub-Saharan Africa.

    Citation: Dolapo Babalola, Michael Anayo, David Ayomide Itoya. Telehealth during COVID-19: why Sub-Saharan Africa is yet to log-in to virtual healthcare?[J]. AIMS Medical Science, 2021, 8(1): 46-55. doi: 10.3934/medsci.2021006

    Related Papers:

  • Telehealth is the use of technology to achieve remote care. This technology can be synchronous or asynchronous. The use of Telehealth increased during the pandemic in the developed countries. On the contrary, telehealth is not fully utilized in public healthcare in many Sub-Saharan African states. This editorial explores the benefits of the adoption of virtual care in public healthcare during COVID-19 pandemic. Benefits of telehealth include efficient stretching of healthcare resources, forward triaging, prevention of medical personnel infection, aiding medical students' clinical observation and participation, and assurance of social support for patients. The absence of policy and political will, inadequate funding, cost of sustenance of telehealth services, patient and healthcare personnel bias on telehealth, willingness to pay and the peculiar challenges in each country are identified limiting factors to the use of Telehealth in Sub-Saharan Africa. We affirm that the foundation to full implementation of Telehealth services in Sub-Saharan African states lies within government political will. Further, the creation of policy framework for telehealth, removal of telecommunication company monopoly, utilization of cloud-based processing telehealth systems, development of telehealth software with broadband efficiency that fits Sub-Saharan clime, the introduction of telehealth training into medical school curriculums, and research and development of user-interface that fits the peculiarities of Sub-Saharan Africa are the solutions we propose to change the current narrative of virtual care in Sub-Saharan Africa.



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    Conflict of interest



    All authors declare no conflict of interest in this paper.

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