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Huawei telemedicine solution gets experts’ nod

The solution currently piloting at Lamu can be deployed in any other remote locality within East Africa with measurable positive impact

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A telemedicine solution being piloted by Huawei Technologies in Kenya, has been identified as an important priority for the East African region amongst other digital health initiatives.

The solution developed by Huawei Technologies in conjunction with Safaricom Limited, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Ministry of Health, among other stakeholders, is ready for testing in remote Lamu County and the Coastal region once the nurses return to work.

Key national and regional stakeholders attending the Regional East African Integrated Digital Health Roadmap Conference in Kampala, Uganda last week, expressed interest in the solution and hope that, if successful, similar solutions can be scaled up nationally and regionally enabling the sharing of scare medical expertise between counties and countries in the region.

Speaking at the conference organised by the East Africa Health Research Commission (EAHRC), Huawei Technologies Public Affairs Director, Adam Lane, said the telemedicine solution can allow for remote specialized consultations and medical education at Lamu County Hospital and other facilities. Doctors and nurses will be able to utilize video conferencing facilities for consultations which, Lane explained, can provide for a more efficient health system in the remote coastal region.

Even if there were enough specialists, even if there was enough funding to pay for them, and even if they are willing to live in remote areas—none of which is currently the case—it would still not be efficient having specialists based in rural areas with sparse populations, even though they also need access to such services.

“At Huawei, we have been leveraging Telemedicine among other ICT solutions to improve healthcare delivery in Lamu County. The solution currently piloting at Lamu can be deployed in any other remote locality within East Africa with measurable positive impact,” Lane said. “In the future, we hope the EAC members will be able to collaborate closely to enable the sharing of medical experts between facilities through video conferencing, lowering costs and improving care for patients across the whole region.”

In Huawei’s social economic estimates, the deployment of telemedicine solutions can afford the economy significant cost savings from reducing travel time by up to 12 hours and travel costs by US$20 per patient.

“These costs are per person and often a patient needs to go with accompanying family members and even stay overnight incurring greater costs; in fact frequently the time and financial costs are so high that half of patients who need referrals for non-emergencies are put off and do not go for their referrals,” Lane explained.

ALSO SEE: MYDAWA reaches 10,000 customers in four months

Some of the biggest problems of healthcare systems today are unevenly distributed medical resources, costly services, and difficulty of providing training to health workers. The Huawei Telemedicine Solution makes care-at-a-distance a reality and extends the reach of quality healthcare to remote locations with remote expert consultation, remote medical education, remote monitoring, and more.

The East African Digital Health Conference brought together government officials, development partners, donors, private sector partners, and national, regional and international experts to discuss the eco-system, policies, regulations, infrastructure and costs necessary for the successful scaling up of digital technology in the EAC region.

The participants discussed the draft Regional East Africa Digital Health Roadmap which will guide the regional implementation of digital health initiative. The roadmap guided by collective vision and commitment towards harmonization of digital health information systems in Eastern Africa will: facilitate collaboration within and among countries, the private sector and donors; harmonize digital health systems in the EAC region; facilitate plans and mechanisms to operationalise the resolutions and commitments on digital health; strengthen cross

Business Today is the leading independent online business website in Kenya. Started in 2012 by a veteran business journalist, it has a huge following both in Kenya and abroad. It covers various business and related issues. Email editor at: [email protected]

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Education

Cholera outbreak at Daystar University

Vice Chancellor Dr Timothy Wachira says the situation is under close supervision by the administration and an awareness campaign had been mounted to curb its spread

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Daystar University Athi River campus.

Five students at Daystar University Athi River who were admitted yesterday due to cholera attack in the school from both on and off the campus.

One of the victims,  who spoke to Business Today, said she started to diarrhea yesterday and went to a clinic near the campus for a checkup and was later rushed to the Nairobi Women’s Hospital after she was declared to have cholera-like symptoms.

Vice Chancellor Dr Timothy Wachira, through corporate affairs department, confirmed a cholera outbreak had been confirmed but assured students that the situation is under close supervision by the administration.

Related: Fear grips school after 200 students fall ill
READ: Women eat crickets to get special protein

““The University service department is working with public health to disinfect all public places. The department of public health is also mounting a public information and awareness campaign,” read the VC’s statement in part.

He added those who were in contact with the victims will be treated with prophylaxis.

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Business Unusual

Kenyans rearing crickets to meet growing demand for special proteins

The cost of establishing a basic system is about Ksh3,096 (US$30), in addition to the cost of the initial breeding colony

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A kilogramme of crickets can sell for approximately Ksh516, according to those rearing them.

When Jane Mbiriri’s granddaughter was diagnosed with acute malnutrition six months ago, she had limited knowhow on the best remedy for the condition and only wallowed in self-pity in her humble house located in rural central Kenya.

The 62-year-old farmer was at wit’s end having no stable source of income to afford a balanced diet for the granddaughter as recommended by the physician. Mbiriri is currently raising three of her grandchildren following the demise of her only daughter one year ago.

However, her search for an affordable and sustainable source of protein for her granddaughter led her into discovering cricket flour which, as she puts it, got her granddaughter’s growth curve back on track. Scientists have in the past cited crickets as a great source of protein compared to soya beans and beef, which are among the conventional sources of proteins.

Cricket floor

In Mbiriri’s case, the insects, which are slowly finding their way into Kenyan recipes, have proved their worth. “At first when a friend recommended cricket flour and promised to get me some from her source in western Kenya, I almost turned down the offer since I had never heard of it,” Mbiriri told Xinhua. “But my options were limited. My dairy cows do not earn me enough to afford the kind of food these children are supposed to eat.”

She has since embraced cricket flour, which has immensely improved her granddaughter’s health, and is contemplating on rearing the insects herself. “In our last visit to the doctor one month ago, I was very happy with the results as my grandchild has now gained weight unlike previous visits,” Mbiriri said. “The cricket flour is not as expensive as other flours and now that I have established a relationship with the supplier, I get discounts from time to time,” she said.

Initially she bought the cricket flour from a farmer in western Kenya but she has now established a new source not far from her home, where cricket farming is gaining traction.

READ: Cockroach milk more nutritious more than cow’s
SEE: Raila’s daughter makes millions from farming snails

“I also plan to venture into cricket farming, which from what I see is paying more even than dairy farming as the crickets are not capital intensive,” Mbiriri said.

She belongs to a growing army of small holder farmers who have gradually embraced cricket farming.

Joseph Kairu took up cricket farming recently. The cost of establishing a basic system is about Ksh3,096 (US$30), in addition to the cost of the initial breeding colony of crickets.

To start such a colony, at least 200 crickets are required, and the colony should not be used for feeding until well established and the first babies mature into adults.

Kairu, who has a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, saw a rising demand for cricket flour as an alternative source of protein for people residing in rural areas. “I come across so many cases of malnourished children. I realized there is a need for alternative sources of protein after a recent assignment in Turkana, where for every 10 babies that I attended to, more than seven suffered from high protein-energy malnutrition,” Kairu told Xinhua.

ALSO SEE: How to choose fats that improve your health

Even though most Kenyans are still debating on whether to embrace alternative eating habits, there are those like Mbiriri and Kairu doing it and seeing the results. “There is a group of women in western Kenya who are already earning huge income from cricket farming and that is where I got some of the tips on cricket rearing,” Kairu said.

Members of the group, made of 20 farmers, rear crickets each on their own but market their products collectively.

One of their clients is a leading hotel in Kisumu. “This is where I came across the different ways in which the crickets can be prepared,” Kairu said.

According to Kairu, a kilogramme of crickets can sell for approximately Ksh516. “We are still far from embracing such alternative sources of vital nutrients, but with proper marketing and heath campaigns, I believe Kenyans will respond positively,” said Kairu.

READ: 20 things in your house that are dirtier than the toilet seat

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Health

Kenyan smokers call for an upgrade

Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance also wants smoking signs prohibiting smoking put in all buildings

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The Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance (KTCA) has called on the government to ensure that smoking zones in bars as well as in designated areas of towns are upgraded to meet the required standards. According to the lobby group, majority of bars as well as smoking zones do not meet the standards and hygiene required as per the Tobacco Control Act.

Speaking during a media round table on Tobacco Control in Kenya, KTCA coordinator Thomas Lindi said  they are working with the Nairobi County to see to it that smoking zones in bars are fully covered so that there is no smoke that goes outside to expose the non-smokers to health risks.

“We want them upgraded from the current situation which is not safe to a more friendly and harmless environment, and also to protect the second hand smokers,” he said.

Lindi further said that they were also lobbying to ensure that the smoking signs prohibiting smoking are put in all buildings.

READ: Why KCB is the most attractive bank

Lindi gave an example of the emerging tobacco consumption products such as Shisha and e-cigarettes that have come up recently and are trending, and are being used by a large number of the youth.

“The Shisha pots being used by the youth are not hygienic and the origin of some of the flavors being used is not known. The content may have been interfered with and added with other drug substances such as marijuana, according to a research that was carried out by the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse,” said Lindi.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), single session of Shisha is equivalent to smoking 100 sticks of cigarettes.

Lindi added that the alliance wants the 2007 Tobacco Control Act domesticated where issues of the emerging tobacco consumption methods are addressed. “A Bill has been drafted by the Nairobi County Government in partnership with the alliance to this effect”, Lindi said.

He emphasised that the lack of enforcement of the Tobacco control Act ten years since it was enacted is wanting and called on the government to stop deliberate exposure of the youth to these harmful products. According to the 2014 Global Adult Tobacco Survey, 2.5 million adults in Kenya are currently using tobacco products.

The survey indicates that the use and involuntary exposure to second hand tobacco smoke is partly responsible for the growing number of non-communicable diseases such as cancer, which kills about 28,000 people in Kenya every year.

Related: BAT under probe by Britain’s Serious Fraud Office

KETCA chairman  Joel Gitali accused Tobacco companies of fighting to ensure that regulations  are not passed, saying although there has been progress,  the delay of  court case petitioned by the Industry stakeholders and now at the Supreme court is derailing.

“Although Kenya has made notable progress in tobacco control, the tobacco industry and its allies have continuously used various strategies and tactics to discredit, delay and derail the implementation of tobacco control policies through legislative and litigations processes”, he insisted.

On the effects on tax policies, a policy and governance expert Vincent Kimosop said raising taxes on tobacco will be the most effective tool to reduce tobacco consumption. “On average, raising tobacco taxes to increase prices by 10% is estimated to reduce tobacco use by 4 percent in high-income countries and by around 5 percent in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs)”, Kimosop  said .

According to WHO, tobacco use is known to cause over 6 million deaths globally each year. About 600,000 of these deaths occur as a result of exposure to second hand tobacco smoke.

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Health

Heart-warming rescue of children from the jaws of death

Maralal Referral Hospital Medical Superintendent Robert Nato said the three children are severely malnourished and were on the verge of death

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Mary Lesipai at the pediatric ward at the Maralal Referral Hospital where the three children are receiving intensive therapeutic care. Credit: KNA

Three severely malnourished children have been rescued from starvation in Galma area, Samburu Central sub-county.

The children, including twins aged between one and four years, were rescued from the jaws of death by a local pastor who had gone to preach in the area and are receiving treatment at Maralal Referral Hospital.

Rev Peter Lesuruai said that he found the children under the care of their grandmother who was hiding them beneath tattered clothes to avoid stigma from the community.

He said that the children’s mother is mentally ill and had run away from home leaving the infants under the care of the elderly woman who was feeding them a bowl of porridge once a day.

“The grandmother is very poor and has been hiding them for fear of stigma and I suspect she was just waiting for them to die but luckily i was told about them by a neighbour,” he said.

Maralal Referral Hospital Medical Superintendent Robert Nato said that the three children are severely malnourished and they were on the verge of death.

He said that they have been put under intensive therapeutic care and they would stay in the hospital for four to six weeks.

Malnourished-850x1024 Heart-warming rescue of children from the jaws of death

Mary Lesipai with her malnourished grandchildren at Galma village in Samburu central sub county. The children were hidden for fear of stigma before they were rescued by a local pastor on Friday September 15, 2017.

“Our nutritionist is taking care of them round the clock to ensure they regain strength,” he said.

Nato said that good nutrition is critical between 0-5 years in human development in terms of physical, psychological and mental capacity.

Related: MEDS leads Ksh12m project to save mother and children

However, he noted that doctors attending the children had not found any underlying diseases adding that they are still undergoing tests.

The Medical Superintendent called upon the children’s department to look for a rescue center for the children to live once they are discharged from hospital.

“The children’s mother is mentally ill and the grandmother who is now the primary caregiver is old and very poor. I believe these children should not be taken back to such conditions,” Nato said.

Rev Lesuruai noted such cases are numerous in the county but parents tend to hide the malnourished or disabled children for fear of stigmatisation. He called upon parents not to hide their children but rather speak out so that they can receive help.

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