Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | While Telemedicine is seen by many as a crucial intervention to increase access to universal health coverage in Uganda, regulators are insisting that an applicable law must be in place.
Telemedicine refers to a combination of remote diagnosis and treatment of patients through telecommunication technology for what is considered the simpler cases, with physical examination for more serious cases. It also focuses on convenience, with lab teams being sent to patients to get samples.
Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioner’s Council this week advised Ugandans taking up telemedicine services that it is unregulated.
According to the council, while Telemedicine is being practiced in Uganda and is fast becoming popular, it is still a grey area. Dr. Katumba Ssentongo Gabula, the Registrar Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioner’s Council, says currently there is no law governing telemedicine in the country.
“We know that the technology is working through medical Watsapp groups, there’s no law to guide it. It is a grey area and since there’s no law, we cannot say it is legal or illegal. But as it is, people using it need to be careful,” he said.
They argued that the absence of a government policy means that users can’t get any form of relief in case of any problem. Traditionally, patients need to be examined physically by a health worker before diagnosis is made.
However, in telemedicine, patients can use devises like phone and computer to get to get in touch with a doctor for simple cases like a flu. Once they share their symptoms with, the health worker makes diagnosis of what they might be suffering from and prescribes treatment.
Why TMCG is pioneering TeleMedicine in Uganda
The pronouncement by the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioner’s Council, comes a week after the Medical Concierge Group (TMCG), that has been in the country seven years now, unveiled a partnership with UAP to extend the service to their customers.
TMCG, a leading digital health company in Africa, through its direct-to-consumer service called Rocket Health, announced a partnership with UAP Old Mutual Insurance Uganda Ltd (UAPOM). This is aimed at extending telemedicine services to its medical insurance members in a move to improve the accessibility, convenience and quality of healthcare provided to members.
UAP becomes the first insurance company in Uganda to incorporate telemedicine as a digital innovation in their medical insurance service
Dr. Davis Musinguzi, the Managing Director The Medical Concierge Group, said they are interested in ensuring that all Ugandans get the health care they need in the shortest time possible. (see video page 2)
“We have a team of doctors skilled in Telemedicine. They have been trained on how to diagnose diseases remotely. Our main focus is to diagnose simple diseases that necessitate over the counter medication. In case of complex ailments, we have a team that can carry out sight visits and even do lab work before they prescribe medication,” he said.