Africa Teledermatology Project
Country of Operation
SummaryTelemedicine utilizes modern telecommunication technology to provide medical services at a distance by connecting multiple medical centres and enabling exchange of expert medical information. The inherent visual nature of dermatology makes Teledermatology easily applicable to virtual medicine.
The purpose of this project is to establish a virtual collaboration between African partners, USA and Austria.
Key program components
African Teledermatology has been created to provide dermatology support to local physicians, dermatologists, and health care workers in hospitals and clinics throughout Africa. This support is provided through Teledermatology consultation services, discussion pertaining to diagnosis and management of patients with skin diseases, links to educational resources, and access to a dermatologic curriculum created specifically for African sites. African developing countries have only a very limited number of qualified dermatologists. Teledermatology has therefore the potential to offer a prompt channel for long distance consultation and consequently provide means for improving medical care of skin diseases. The purpose of this project is to establish a virtual collaboration between African partners, USA and Austria. A unique online archive of tropical skin conditions will also emerge which should serve as an internet source of educational material for training and updating of medical specialists and health personnel. A secondary aim of the project is to establish and secure an active channel and platform for dermatological research collaboration. The scope of this project is the integration of the various aspects of Teledermatology and Tele-dermatopathology, using a best practice model, creating an innovation- and investment-friendly surrounding for the broad-scaled implementation of telemedical applications in Africa. This project has been funded by the Commission for Development Studies, Austrian Academy of Sciences (KEF: Kommission für Entwicklungsfragen, Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften). (Originally Uganda-Austria Telederm Project) and the American Academy of Dermatology. The Africa Teledermatology Project operates in six Afircan countries, using cameras and laptop PCs to capture and send images of patients to specialists in other African countries, Austria and the United States providing diagnostic and treatment support to local physicians, dermatologists, and health care workers in hospitals and clinics in underserved regions. In Botswana and Malawi a system to use mobile technology is tested to avoid problems from inconsistent access to the Internet. In Uganda, over 80 cases (160 images) were submitted by mobile phones from centres to local specialists and specialists in Europe, USA and Australia between June 2010 and May 2011. Services are provided at no cost to the patients.