Telemedicine in Zambia works to curb women’s cancer

Lillian Banda – WNN Breaking

Nurse in Lusaka uses computer technology to connect to patients
At the beginning of innovation in medical use of technology, a certified nurse in Lusaka, Zambia uses a computer to connect to patients and case information in August 2008. Now telemedicine in the region is advancing quickly to help patients who cannot get in to see a doctor or nurse. Athough the region is suffering from a large deficient in doctors, ‘virtual doctors’ are increasing through the use of telemedicine. Image: AndrésMonroy-Hernández

(WNN) Lusaka, ZAMBIA, AFRICA: Women in Zambia now have hope for early diagnosis and treatment of both cervical and breast cancer, asserts the country’s First Lady Dr. Christine Kaseba.

Dr. Kaseba who was recently awarded the Global Leadership Award in recognition for her contribution towards the fight against cervical and breast cancer in Washington, D.C., notes  that Zambia has made significant progress in ensuring that more women are screened and receive early treatment once diagnosed.

Increasing the benefit from tele-medicine as more women receive on-the-spot diagnosis through a medical network that links women to off-site consultants and reports within the country, Zambia’s Tele-medicine Cancer Screening Centers are beginning to save lives, say advocates.

Telemedicine advances are now enabling doctors and medical teams to work together to help a patient who may not have access to a clinic. Use of webinar technologies are part of an expanding reach for medical practitioners and patients, especially women who are suffering from breast, ovary, uterine or cervical cancer.

“Having worked as a gynecologist, I am particularly concerned with cancers related to the reproductive system of women,” asserts Dr Kaseba. “I am happy to see that both men and women are now openly talking about cancer, which was not the case a few years ago.  An increase in the number of women visiting screening centers is one indication that the country is making headways in terms of bringing health care services accessible to women,” adds Kaseba.

Zambia Cancer Society Chairperson Udie Soko says cancer is a disease that needs more encouragement and hope for a patient to survive. Survivors of the disease are the best people to tell a story and encourage others faced with it, adds Soko.

Thirty percent of all detected cases of cancer in Zambia are considered to be serious and require surgery. Other cases are fatal. This has been attributed to the fact that screening for cancer still remains a challenge for many African countries, partly because of the poorly functioning health care system.

Reports within the country indicate that doctors at the University Training Hospital in Lusaka diagnose more than two thousand cases of cervical cancer each year.

Zambia is a region where numerous medical doctors have left to other more industrial regions for greater career opportunities and money, including the United States. This has caused the need for ‘virtual doctors’ in Zambia to be larger than ever.

“Such an exodus means that in Zambia, a country of 12 million people, there are only around 1200 registered doctors [9] and they are mainly based in urban areas. This situation is common throughout sub-Saharan Africa.,” outline Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine 2011 report with the WHO – World Health Organization .

According to the World Cancer Research Fund, Zambia has the second highest incidence of cancer in the world.

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