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Information and communication technology (ICT) is a primary driver of economic development and social change.

The MTN SA Foundation’s mandate is to use technology and innovation within the ICT sector to improve and uplift the lives of poor and disadvantaged communities. Whilst most of the interventions delivered in 2017 were focused on education, the MTN SA Foundation continued to address challenges in the areas of health, enterprise development, as well as Arts and Culture.

Over the past three years, the MTN SA Foundation successfully collaborated with the Department of Health to implement programmes aimed at promoting healthy communities by focusing on disease prevention, early detection and referral. Through the eHealth Training and the Telemedicine programmes, the Foundation provided much needed infrastructure to use technology to improve health care service delivery.

eHEALTH TRAINING PROGRAMME

MTN SA Foundation, in partnership with the Provincial Departments of Health have been introducing the eHealth Training programme in selected nursing colleges since 2014. The programme is aimed at providing the necessary equipment and skills to both nurse trainees and lectures to use technology to enhance learning and teaching. The MTN SA Foundation provides 40 seater multimedia centres consisting of connectivity, digitized content for selected subjects and training lectures to use the equipment.

To date, nine Nursing colleges nationally received state of the art multimedia centres and have reported a noticeable improvement in student’ performance since the introduction and implementation of the digitised graphic content.

In addition, the Western Cape Emergency Medical Service (EMS) College in Tygerberg Hospital was the first EMS facility to receive a multimedia centre. The infrastructure and the digitized content has been designed to enhance the training and upskilling of EMS personnel in the Western Cape Province.

TELEMEDICINE:

Enabling greater access to quality healthcare services is one of the Foundation’s objectives as a responsible corporate within South Africa. Telemedicine, the use of telecommunication and information technology to provide clinical health care from a distance, has been a seamless fit into the Foundation’s e-health programme. This e-solution uses MTN’s core business – ICT, making it one of the most relevant investments. The Foundation once again collaborated with the Department of Health to ensure ownership, continuation and sustainability of the solution once it rolled out in the rural clinics. The programme piloted in 2008 in partnership with the Medical Research Council (MRC). The Telemedicine programme addresses the challenges of referrals and access to specialist doctors in rural areas. The telemedicine workstations consist of a touch screen computer, an examination camera, some electronic medical equipment and 3G internet connectivity that enables the rural clinics to have access to a web-based consultation application. The solution has evolved and now uses Skype for consultation. The nurses and doctors consult with urban-based specialists to interpret symptoms, identify diseases and appropriate treatment without the patient needing to travel to distant tertiary hospitals.

Although the project has been rolled out nationally in all 9 provinces, connecting the deep rural healthcare facilities to the urban hospitals has not been without its challenges and the success rate varies in each province.

The Telemedicine programme was well received in the Western Cape, North West and Free State. In one test case, the system was set up in an eye clinic in Grabouw in the Western Cape and successfully used, to screen patients for diabetic retinopathy. The Free State Department of Health has effectively used the Telemedicine platform for the Psychiatry out-reach programme - with psychiatrists based at the Universitas Hospital in Bloemfontein using Skype to conduct an outreach programme to Bongani Hospital in Welkom. Using this Telemedicine technology has enabled the psychiatrists to consult more patients - saving on time as well travelling expenses for both the patient and government.

There is no doubt that overall availability of ICT can contribute to decrease the gap between served and under-served areas, it can be useful to provide increased access to essential services such as health and education. The MTN SA Foundation continues to engage partners to explore suitable technological solutions to enable the broader society to reach effective and efficient, essential services. The groundwork for self-reliance has now been laid and with MTN’s ongoing support and encouragement, the programme can only grow from strength to strength.










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