Kampala, Uganda | Julius Businge | Telemedicine health provider, Rocket Health together with United Nations Development Programme have unveiled a project dubbed ‘Telemedicine for Tourism’ in Uganda to meet health needs of tourists visiting the country.
Under this US$40,000 (approx.Shs144mn) project, a Rocket Health physician in one location can offer healthcare services to a tourist (client) destined in any part of Uganda using telecommunications infrastructure.
It comes at a time Uganda’s tourism sector needs to recover from the coronavirus pandemic hit.
The one-year pilot innovation project is being funded by UNDP and implemented by Rocket Health, a service of The Medical Concierge Group.
Dr. Louis Kamulegeya, a medical doctor and project manager at Rocket Health said, the innovation would leverage digital technologies to improve tourism experience in the different destinations of Uganda.
“We are aware that tourists want to have that convenience when they get an accident or any other emergency,” he said on Apr.23.
He was speaking during the half day sensitisation workshop for tourism actors on the new product at a hotel in Kampala on Apr.23.
Kamulageya said, through telemedicine, tourists will get services including doctor consultation, laboratory, pharmacy, clinic and healthcare plans.
He said, they have curated all health facilities in Uganda where they would refer clients seeking medical services in the event that Rocket Health does not have physical presence.
The client, can consult through voice, text or video using mobile phones and internet enabled devices.
The costs involved are determined on a case by case basis.
“We can deliver our lab technicians or medical personnel to attend to a client within a very short time,” Kamulegeya said.
The plan, he said, is to grow a network of satellite pharmacies or laboratories owned by Rocket Health to serve tourists in any destination of their choice.
To date, Rocket Health is partnering with Lancet Laboratories and Guardian Pharmacy to deliver health services to clients.
The health entity currently handles between 100-200 cases. The number is expected to increase with the launch of this tourism product.
Kamulegeya urges government to embrace public private partnerships to improve internet connectivity in rural areas to support innovations of this nature.
Rosemary Kobutagi, the commissioner for tourism development at the Ministry of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities said, the project will complement government programmes of ensuring health and safety of tourists.
“The end goal is to improve confidence amongst tourists visiting Uganda that their healthcare would be taken care of,” she said.
Rocket Health has won international accolades related to health sector services nationally and beyond, and according to Kamulegeya, this serves as evidence that they are best placed to implement this project.
At the end of the project period in August 2022, Rocket Health, would find its sustainability strategy according to Kamulegeya.
Bbiira Kiwanuka Nassa, the chief executive officer for the Association of Uganda Tour Operators, a member entity of 362 said, the initiative will boost confidence among tourists that their health is taken care of in any part of Uganda.
“It addresses the analogue and digital type of communication,” he said. It is going to increase our rank in the hospitality/tourism sector.
Previously, Kiwanuka said, there has been a gap between healthcare seeking tourists and healthcare service providers especially in remote areas of the country where key tourism activities take place.
“There is no physical health facility at tourist sites,” he said, “such a service comes at the right time,” he added.