Lusaka, Zambia, and Washington, DC, September 3, 2015 — Working in partnership with the Government of Zambia, the Zambian Defense Forces (ZDF) Military Medical Services, and the Global Partnership for TeleHealth, the American International Health Alliance (AIHA) celebrated today the launch of a telemedicine initiative that will improve access to high quality diagnostics and specialized care to people living in rural, underserved parts of Zambia.
Supported by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the U.S. Department of Defense in Zambia, this innovative national eHealth initiative links clinical experts at Maina Soko Military Hospital with pilot ZDF health sites in Lusaka West, Mansa, Kabwe, and Kaoma, as well as at the Defense Force School of Health Sciences in Lusaka.
Distinguished speakers at the launch ceremony — which took place at Maina Soko from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. — included the Honorable Rose Salukatula, Permanent Secretary, Zambian Ministry of Defence; Brigadier General Frank Sinyangwe, MD, Director General ZDF Military Medical Services; General Evans Malyangu, MD, Commandant of Maina Soko Military Hospital; General Panganani Njovu, MD, Commandant of the Defense Force School of Health Sciences; and Eda Lifuka, U.S. Department of Defense PEPFAR Program Manager at the U.S. Embassy in Zambia.
ZDF oversees more than 50 health sites across the country that serve both civilian and military populations, which puts it in an excellent position to take the lead on new and cutting-edge health initiatives like telemedicine. Because many of these health sites are situated in rural areas and lack access to specialized care, patients — particularly those living with HIV or other complex or chronic conditions — often face significant barriers to accessing health services, including time, distance, transportation, and cost concerns. Telemedicine effectively eliminates these barriers and therefore has great potential to reduce morbidity and mortality rates, as well as to improve the quality of life for people living in rural areas.
“We are proud to be part of this important eHealth project, which is sure to have a positive impact on people and communities across Zambia in the months to come,” AIHA President and CEO David Greeley said at the launch. “It will improve their access to the knowledge and expertise of the many clinical experts at Maina Soko and even at other medical facilities throughout the world, who can share their knowledge and advice through telemedicine.”
The American International Health Alliance (AIHA) is an international nonprofit organization working to advance global health through locally driven, locally owned, and locally sustainable health systems strengthening (HSS) and human resources for health (HRH) interventions. AIHA’s mission is to help resource-constrained communities and nations make positive, holistic, and sustainable changes that improve health outcomes. Since 1992, AIHA has supported more than 170 partnerships and other capacity building initiatives in 34 countries spanning the globe. Through these projects, AIHA has managed more than $320 million in U.S. Government grants and awards, along with an additional $285 million in in-kind contributions leveraged through our unique volunteer-based twinning model. For more information, please visit AIHA online at www.aiha.com.
The Global Partnership for TeleHealth (GPT) is a non-profit organization with a mission to connect and provide healthcare globally. GPT brings unparalleled success in the application of telemedicine programs. With active programs in many of the 50 United States and a multitude of healthcare settings, GPT provides access to healthcare globally in settings where healthcare services have never been available. GPT’s mission is to improve and promote the availability of specialized healthcare services; to educate and provide training and technical assistance to hospitals, clinics, and primary care providers to implement and achieve exchange of health information; and to reduce service barriers that exist for patients. For more information, please visit GPT online at www.gatelehealth.org.
The AIHA partnership with the Zambian Defence Forces Military Medical Services was launched in 2005 with support from PEPFAR and the U.S. Department of Defense through a cooperative agreement between AIHA and the U.S. Department of Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). AIHA has been providing direct technical assistance to ZDF since 2007 through our Knowledge Management Initiative and pre- and in-service medical training in targeted fields such as emergency medicine, injection safety, and infection control at the Defense School of Health Sciences.
The project is designed to improve provider access to evidence-based clinical resources as a means of enhancing care management for PLHIV and other military and civilian patients treated at ZDF clinical sites throughout the country.
AIHA has to date established 21 Knowledge Management Centers (KMCs) at ZDF clinical sites and we are continuing to train medical personnel in effective research and implementation techniques to improve quality and efficacy of patient care. At these KMCs, healthcare personnel can easily tap into a wealth of up-to-date clinical research, texts, case studies, treatment protocols, and other evidenced-based resources that can guide their practice and improve quality of care and HIV/AIDS treatment outcomes.
AIHA supports effective use and scale up of KMCs by providing targeted training on evidence-based medicine, emergency medicine, proper research protocols, online resources, and other relevant topics both through workshops and distance learning courses. From October 2014 to March 2015 alone, ZDF KMCs logged nearly 250 visits from users looking to access clinical resources. During that same timeframe, local KMC coordinators trained 114 individuals in the use of evidence-based clinical tools and research, clearly demonstrating ZDF’s commitment to supporting the ongoing professional development of military medical personnel.
AIHA, the Georgia-based Global Partnership for Telehealth, and ZDF began collaborating on this groundbreaking locally driven, locally owned telemedicine program in March 2014. Telemedicine uses telecommunications technology to enhance, expedite, or even directly provide healthcare services by accessing offsite databases, linking clinics or care providers to central hospitals, or transmitting x-rays or other diagnostic images for examination by experts at another site.