Minister unveils telemedicine project

Alex Matlala

Alex Matlala

Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang this week launched a telemedicine project at Polokwane Hospital in Limpopo.

She also officially opened a renal dialysis unit at the hospital on Monday.

The project will be the fourth of its kind in the province after three of the same kind were launched in Waterburg district a few years ago.

The renal dialysis unit is a public-private partnership involving the refurbishing of the renal dialysis unit at Mankweng Hospital complex outside Polokwane.

The unit will accommodate 80 patients and will provide a full range of haemodialysis services.

Some of the services to be rendered will include 22 dialysis machine units, 16 machines for chronic patients, two machines for sceptic patients, four machines for acute dialysis and peritoneal outpatient services.

The telemedicine unit at Polokwane Hospital will be fitted with screens and computers that will enable specialist doctors to conduct their work without being physically present.

Tshabalala-Msimang said the project would bring the doctor to the patient and not the other way round.

"The purpose of this project is to research cost-effectiveness and efficiency of telemedicine in expanding access to quality health care, particularly in the rural areas of the province," she said.

She said the project was a joint venture between the different government departments, including the Medical Research Council of South Africa, and the Department of Health.

Tshabalala-Msimang said the partnership meant that more rural and remote healthcare centres would be included in the Limpopo network.

She also said that discussions were underway with the government to expand the telemedicine network in Limpopo.