Healthcare, life science and performance materials firm Merck has invested Ksh10.2 million ($107,000) in the E-Health platform to allow patients and healthcare providers in remote areas through using the power of IP and video conferencing to interact with specialists at Kenyatta Hospital, the largest national referral and teaching hospital in Kenya to extend the reach of healthcare into remote areas.
The firm partnered with Kenya Ministry of Health to kick off e- diagnostic and consultation clinics at both Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi and Machakos Level 5 Hospital.
The platform is part of MercK’s 5 year Capacity Advancement Program (CAP) to expand healthcare capacity in Africa through research and development, supply-chain integrity and efficiency, pharmacovigilance, medical education, and community awareness.
Frank Stangenberg- Haverkamp Chairman of Family Board and Executive Board of E-Merck KG said “Merck E-Health initiative demonstrates our commitment to building healthcare capacity and improving access to innovative and equitable healthcare solutions and disease awareness for patients in rural areas across Kenya.”
Cabinet Secretary for Health, Dr. James Macharia, stated “we are happy to partner with Merck to support Kenya national telemedicine program which will enable patient consultations with specialists in referral hospitals to help earlier diagnosis, quicker and better care”. “Video conferencing technology takes into consideration the reality of Africa in which majority of poor population live in rural set-up with inadequate health facilities and less developed road infrastructure which are barriers to better healthcare” he added.
He said the next phase of the initiative will involve expansion to other county hospitals and looping in of the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital to provide e-consultation services.
“The next phase will also include upgrading of the telemedicine to facilitate the sub-specialists examine the patient at the county hospital in real time by availing digital patient examination equipment,” said Dr. Macharia.
Merck’s E-health initiative, which will contribute to bringing healthcare to underserved populations, improving the quality and reducing the cost of healthcare delivery; improving the effectiveness of public health programmes and research in order to promote prevention and better managing of non- communicable diseases, especially cancer ,diabetes and cardiac diseases.
Merck will actively engage in dialogue with governments and local stakeholders in Africa to inform the expansion of their E-Health initiative and other health initiatives across Africa. Merck previously partnered with African Ministries of Health, Universities and Patient Diabetes Association to carry out nationwide diabetes awareness (SMS) text messages to healthcare providers and community members in Kenya, Uganda and Ghana.
They have also introduced an E-Learning platform, where medical and pharmacy students and healthcare providers in rural areas can have free access to all medical educational materials and lectures on a dedicated website that has been developed byEXCEMED.
Merck is planning to target more than 15,000 students by the end of 2018, expanding to more African, Asian, Latin American and Middle Eastern countries with special focus on non –communicable diseases such as Diabetes, cancer and fertility management.