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Rotary launches international telemedicine project

Thursday, December 20th, 2012 | Posted by | no responses

The Rotary Club of Sebastopol Sunrise has established a partnership with the Rotary Club of Manila to improve health care in the Philippines by bringing telemedicine and comprehensive electronic medical records to the underserved in the Philippines. The clubs are signing a Memorandum of Understanding this week to fund a pilot project at the Mary Johnston Hospital in Manila.

The program is based on the success of Dr. James Gude’s telemedicine services to outlying hospitals in Northern California.

“Our Rotary Club project will allow doctors in Manila to provide a higher level of medical care to patients in difficult to serve areas,” said Gail Thomas, President of Sebastopol Sunrise Rotary.

Sebastopol Sunrise Rotary is funding the pilot project with a $3,000 donation, complemented by $2,000 from the Manila Rotary Club and $5,000 from a private donor, which will provide computers, networking and software to the Manila hospital. The partners in Manila will recruit local doctors and facilitate training.

Telemedicine services can improve access to health care by using technology to extend the reach of physicians and specialists to underserved areas. There are very wide disparities in the availability of physicians and specialist services throughout the world. In the United States there are approximately 390 residents for each physician, in Europe there are between 220 – 440 residents per physician, while in the Philippines there are 1,800 residents per physician and in Africa the number can be as high as 50,000 residents per physician.

In today’s world, where access to the internet is available to most medical facilities, it is possible for medical professionals to consult on cases across town or thousands of miles away in real time and then the needed treatment can be initiated. Telemedicine, which has been used for over 20 years in the United States, is now feasible, wherever there is an internet connection and some basic equipment.

The Rotary Club of Sebastopol Sunrise is recruiting other local Rotary Clubs with plans already in the works to expand the telemedicine and electronic medical records programs in Zimbabwe, India and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“We are excited that our local Rotary Club can have such a valuable international impact on the delivery and quality of healthcare to underserved individuals in developing countries,” added Gail Thomas.

For additional information about becoming involved in the life-changing humanitarian work of Rotary or the telemedicine project, please contact Sebastopol Sunrise Rotary President Gail Thomas,poohcornerfarm@comcast.net.

 

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Andrea Granahan is our West County correspondent.
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