A new not for profit organisation, the Impilo Initiative is on a mission to bring healthcare to rural South Africa through the use of telehealth solutions.

The Impilo Initiative was founded in January 2018 by Elizabeth van Rooyen – a South African living in New Zealand who has a background in working with start-up technology businesses – to provide women and girls with the tools they need to look after themselves from sexual health and family planning to pre and post natal care.

“Our focus is on women so that we can empower them to take charge of their health and make sure they are educated about their bodies. I founded the organisation after seeing a gap in the aid system within the digital health space in South Africa, which can revolutionise how rural communities access medical care,” van Rooyen told eHealthNews.

In rural South Africa healthcare access is limited and often basic healthcare knowledge is quite low, for example preventing adolescent pregnancies and HIV/AIDS. The Impilo Initiative aims to help fight these serious problems through education and helping women understand their bodies and associated rights. The goal is to prevent some of these health issues from occurring and to facilitate early detection to improve treatment outcomes.

With their focus being on telehealth, the Impilo Initiative aims to equip community health workers (CHWs) with mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones, so that they can facilitate virtual doctor consultations using the device’s camera. To date the Impilo Initiative has partnered with Australian telemedicine platform, Welio, and a number of women’s health specialists and medical professionals.

“The doctor can see, communicate and assess the patient through the telemedicine platform without having to be there physically. The doctor can be anywhere in the world, and provides their service at no cost to the patient. The patient can then be assessed, diagnosed, advised, and even prescribed medication from our partner telemedicine platform, Welio,” said van Rooyen.

“Telehealth is essential in our initiative. We have partnered with some of the most innovative minds in the world to bring cutting edge digital health technology to South Africa. From the actual telemedicine platform to digital devices and monitoring systems, this disrupts the traditional healthcare process and creates a whole new realm of opportunities to provide access to medical care without having to leave one’s community,” continued van Rooyen.

The Impilo Initiative is always looking for GPs and specialists to donate as little as one hour per week to give e-consultations via their telehealth platform. “We have a very collaborative view on how we run and are always looking for new partners to add value to our goal of changing rural healthcare for women. We are rapidly growing and are looking for passionate people to join the team,” concluded van Rooyen.

More information can be found here: http://www.theimpiloinitiative.org/become-an-impilo-doctor/

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