Travel Notes: Homa Bay, Kenya’s Growing Telehealth Network

In 2013, the Center for Health Market Innovations' nomination of World Health Partners (WHP) helped assure the organzation's success in the Skoll Foundation awards. The award enabled WHP to expand their telemedicine model to western Kenya, where the program has found great success replicating the model.

Last month, the WHP team members from India, the US, and Kenya gathered in Homa Bay, Kenya to kick off the training of local entrepreneurs, who are now offering telemedicine consultations services in rural Kenya.

Photo: Ms. Beatrice Achieng, a WHP trained Sky provider, is using mDOC to facilitate the sharing of patient vitals via teleconsultation. Read more on mDoc here. 

Located on the eastern shores of Lake Victoria in Western Kenya, Homa Bay County now has eight Sky Centres, launched by the WHP team. Each center is run by a local female entrepreneur and a male counterpart, who have been trained to use a basic SIM card-powered cellphone to offer community members a way to share vital medical information with network doctors.


Photo: Trained Sky provider, Albert Nyang'wara, offering a mDOC based tele-consultation at the Mbita Sky Centre in Kenya 

The Sky network is set up using a telemedicine device that activates with the same SIM card used by phones and sends blood pressure and pulse readings, stethoscope sounds, cardiac signals, and temperature via mobile phones. Doctors can then advise patients and community health workers on the best course of action, including whether treatment or lab work is advised or whether the patient needs to be referred to a higher-level healthcare facility. 

So far, the Homa Bay Sky  Centres have provided the community with 75 teleconsultations since the training. The WHP team is aiming to launch a total of 25 Sky  Centres in Homa Bay County to make teleconsultation services widely available.

The June training and the launch of these telemedicine services was attended by a number of local officials, including the Homa Bay county Community Health Services lead, Henry Ojwang, as well as staff from the WHP team, including Gopi Gopalakrishnan, WHP President & Founder; Dollina Odera, the Kenya Program Lead; Akhilesh Sharma, Technical Advisor – Social Franchising; Rebecca Goldberg, Advocacy & Business Development Lead; Daniel Omolo, Project Coordinator; Rachel Otieno, Clinical Officer; Jeff Kaboo and Nicholas Sabwa, IT associates; and Ms. Geeta  Bisht IT Coordinator, WHP India.


Photo: The WHP team from Kenya, India, and the US at Ndhiwa Sky Centre in Homa Bay County with a local Sky provider named Dorothy.

Check out more of our travel photo below, capturing the team that is building the first telemedicine network in Homa Bay County, Kenya. 


Peter Otonde Obech and his wife Margaret Arthur Otonde, the couple has been trained by WHP as Sky providers and participate in the Homa Bay County telemedicine network. 

The Imbo Sky  Centre in Homa Bay, image depicting how rural the county is. 


-By Akhilesh Sharma