The Botswana-UPenn Partnership (BUP) has partnered with Microsoft, the Botswana Innovation Hub, and other global partners to launch the first telemedicine service in Africa using TV white spaces to bring internet connectivity to hospitals and clinics across rural areas of Botswana.

The pilot project, called Project Kgolagano, which translates to “be connected or networked,” will provide clinical consultations and diagnoses to patients in rural areas who would normally have to travel to Botswana’s capital city, Gaborone, for specialised care. There will be specific focus on specialised maternal medicine to help improve the livelihoods of women located in small towns and rural areas.

BUP was founded in 2001 as a programme of the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania, and is comprised of three main partners: the Government of Botswana, the University of Botswana and the University of Pennsylvania, all of which are working together to build capacity in sustainable and high quality healthcare in Botswana through clinical care, research and medical education.

The project will initially run in three locations: Lobatse, Francistown and Maun, with additional locations expected to be added in the coming months.

“This unique and innovative project will allow underserved patients in the rural areas of Botswana to have better access to the health care they need,” said Director of BUP and Professor of Medicine in the division of Infectious Diseases at Pen, Harvey Friedman, MD.

“People won’t have to travel hundreds of miles to the see specialists, which are lacking in many of the rural hospitals in the country. They will be able to engage with Penn Medicine doctors and residents who work over there from their local hospitals and clinics in a live telemedicine connection that will deliver care in a faster, more convenient, and cost-effective manner,” continued Friedman.

Other collaborators on the project include Global Broadband Solutions, Vista Life Sciences, BoFiNet, Adaptrum and USAID-NetHope.

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