According to 2014 data from the United Nations, over a third (35.7%) of South Africans live in rural areas. Although they live outside of urban centres, this portion of the population still needs access to the same services as those who are urbanised – education, healthcare and others. In the 21st Century world in which we live, technology and connectivity have the potential to extend the reach and access of these essential services. 

A connected society (be it urban or rural), gives citizens access to information and innovation, which is proven to have positive socio-economic benefits. In fact, the World Bank claims that in high-income countries, a 10% rise in broadband penetration adds a 1.21% rise in economic growth, while in low- and middle-income countries, the rise in economic growth is even higher, at 1.38%. 

An example of technology’s potential in extending healthcare services to rural areas is Equatel’s portable digital health kiosk that is able to offer various healthcare services:

  • Blood diagnostics
  • ECG
  • Eyesight test
  • Glucose monitoring 
  • Hearing test
  • Respiratory monitoring
  • Stethoscope
  • Ultrasound.

Limited access to diagnostic tools is one of the many challenges of rural healthcare. Although diagnostics are an imperative part of preventative care, rural patients are often unable to travel to urban areas to get regular health checks. 

Through Equatel’s public access kiosks (connected via Wi-Fi), rural communities are able to access communication with healthcare professionals and health networks. Essentially, the e-health kiosk is a solar-powered tablet built to function effectively in locations without electricity.

How it works: 

  • Users log into the system using a personal SIM or smart card (which acts as their personal identification).
  • The user can access video consultations that allow doctors to view symptoms in real-time. 
  • If the patient needs additional checks (such as blood pressure), the doctor can guide the patient to use the kiosk’s medical attachments and view the results on their personal screen. These advanced medical diagnostics allow for greater accuracy and reduce misdiagnoses.

The eHealth platform can also be used for health education on topics such as first aid, nutrition and fitness, regional health alerts, vaccination drives and more. 

Equatel’s public access kiosks are a convenient and cost-effective way to channel vital life-saving health information to rural communities. The one potential limitation is that they need to be connected to the internet. 

Wi-Fi = opportunity 

Having Wi-Fi networks in rural communities suddenly presents people with services and options they would not normally have had. It’s an economical way of providing high-speed, non-line-of-sight connectivity that can have a positive impact on healthcare service delivery. 
We know all too well that, despite the many benefits, getting decent connectivity in rural and hard-to-reach areas can be a challenge. At Bundu NetworX, we specialise in expanding our network to destinations that are outside of urban areas. Get in touch to find out about coverage in your area: https://bundunetworx.co.za/.

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