Ghana has successfully implemented a telemedicine programme that is helping to improve healthcare in rural areas of the country.

The programme initially began as a pilot, which ran between 2011 and 2014, that was funded by The Novartis Foundation in partnership with Ghana’s Health Service.

Through the programme a Teleconsultation Centre (TCC) was set up in Amansie West, a district in the Ashanti region of Ghana, which aimed to provide nurses and healthcare workers in small rural clinics with toll free mobile phones that they could use to call the TCC 24/7 to speak to experienced nurses who could offer them medical advice.

Reports from the Ghana Health Service say that about 60% of the calls from the pilot where questions based on maternity health and 54% of the calls were resolved over the phone.

Before the model was implemented patients were required to travel long distances to receive medical treatment. Since the TCC was put into play there has been a significant improvement to healthcare access thanks to improved healthcare staff capacity.

For the duration of the pilot phase the TCC served 30 communities in the Amansie West district, but due to the success of the pilot three more TCCs were set up at a cost of$50,000. Results have shown that it was more affordable than building more modernised clinics across Ghana.

“We believe that we can service the entire country with six well positioned TCCs,” said Ghana’s National Telemedicine Project Manager, Joseph Adomako.

Adomako added that he is hoping to provide healthcare workers with training across all regions using a $6 million budget.

“Our biggest challenge will be funding for training workers across the country and maintaining equipment used in the TCCs,” concluded Adomako.

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