Who We Are
The Virtual Doctors is a UK-based registered charity that helps rural health workers in rural areas to connect to doctors and medical specialists in Africa and the UK who respond with diagnosis and treatment advice, helping to save lives. Our simple scalable model provides easy to use telemedicine software and state of the art technology to remote communities, connecting them with the very best medical expertise.
The charity has three clear aims:
- to improve the skills and knowledge of rural health workers by providing specialist medical advice and education and access to online medical resources .
- to reduce unnecessary referrals to distant and hard-to-reach hospitals by supporting rural health workers to treat more patients on site.
- To connect rural health workers in rural areas in 75 sites in Zambia and through our trial in 6 sites in Malawi and promote communication and skill sharing.
The Virtual Doctors relies 100% on charitable donations and the gift of time from 113 medical professional “Virtual Doctors” (with over 20 different specialisms to date) and a small number of other volunteers who help raise awareness, fundraising and administration.
- 11.5% (10.9-12.3) of the adult population of Zambia are HIV (UNaids 2018)
- 1 in 16 (64 per 1000) children will not reach the age of 5 (Unicef State of Worlds Children Report 2016)
- In Zambia there are approximately 1600 for a population of over 15 million (World Bank) – and while two thirds of these doctors live in urban areas, two thirds of the population live in rural areas
- Health Workers are challenged and struggle to diagnose and treat many chronic and acute conditions, so patient conditions can deteriorate quickly
- Patients who need to be referred for second opinion may have to walk or cycle for many hours, or even days, to reach a district hospital. Costs of transport are prohibitive to many.
How the Service works
Our simple software, designed specifically for rural Africa and identified needs, connects remote health care Clinical Officers (COs), to volunteer doctors. The service provides COs with an internet-enabled smartphone loaded with our bespoke telemedicine software and ongoing access to bandwidth. We provide set up, training, ongoing support, in-app educational material and mentorship. Our Zambia team also have recently started visiting the clinics on a quarterly basis to help embed the service, motivate the Clinical Officer, offer ongoing training, trouble shooting and undertake evaluation questionnaires which is useful feedback to continually improve.
Clinical Officer Quotes
“Am learning a lot from the doctors in the UK. I appreciate the work they are doing. Work becomes much easy. “
“VDrs are very helpful. As the programme does not only benefit the patients but also increases knowledge for the health provider. Keep it up VDrs”
“The Information is very educational. Timing is good. Less than 24 hrs you have the answers.”
More information: www.virtualdoctors.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org