SUSTAINABLE TELEMEDICINE, UGANDA
SasaDoc is a social-for-profit service that aims to deliver telemedicine in the most remote areas of rural Uganda. It was a collaboration between post graduate students from Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art.
In 2014 SasaDoc was awarded with the first place in the Entrepreneurship Competition Imperial College London, for its innovative and impactful service and business model.
In Uganda there is 1 doctor for every 13,000 people, which results in an inefficient and overloaded healthcare system.
By 2014, 84% of Ugandans lived in remote rural areas, making it extremely hard to access health care. Some people have to walk for over 20 hours, sell their belongings and lose their income only to reach a hospital, many times too late. While some NGOs can provide treatment, patients lack resources for follow-up visits, and thus often “fall off the treatment radar”.
The five leading causes of death in Uganda are communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria, respiratory infections, and diarrheal diseases. Uganda has the highest incidence rate of malaria in the world, with 478 people out of every 1,000 being afflicted per year.
75% of the disease burden in Uganda could be reduced through health promotion and prevention.
Even the growing middle class and those with health insurance suffer from poor access to doctors. A visit to the doctor requires a trip to hospital, resulting in relatively high costs in both travel and time.
How might we enable people living in rural Uganda to access quality healthcare when they need it?
Through research we found that even in very precarious villages over 90% of people still had access to a phones, whether it's a personal one or one they shared among their community members. Additionally, many of the diseases could be addressed earlier by talking to a trained doctor or nurse over the phone.
SasaDoc aims to provide access to doctors to people living Uganda through telephone consultations.
For a very low cost it connects patients who can pay to a doctor over the phone. This allows them to deliver free phone consultations for those who can’t pay.
This way SasaDoc enables Ugandans to access medical care when they need it, reducing the time and money they spend, and in 50% of cases, it avoids patients visiting a hospital all together, liberating space in the healthcare system to treat more urgent and serious conditions.