Philips supports Malawi e-health


Image: General Manager Philips Healthcare Africa & Country Manager Philips South Africa, JJ van Dongen. By Vitus-Gregory Gondwe
General Manager Philips Healthcare Africa & Country Manager Philips South Africa, JJ van Dongen

By Gregory Gondwe, Lilongwe, Malawi

Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands has partnered with Malawi’ s Medical Consultants Africa to equip the country’ s first e-health diagnostic clinic.

The agreement to install the Philips diagnostic equipment at the Centre for Medical Diagnostics in Lilongwe was announced during the Malawian leg of a Philips Cape Town to Cairo road show, by General Manager Philips Healthcare Africa & Country Manager Philips South Africa, JJ van Dongen.

Philips is travelling across Africa in an effort to raise awareness about how relevant healthcare and lighting solutions can improve the quality of life across the continent.

Philips will provide all the medical diagnostic equipment in the Centre for Medical Diagnostics, the first private diagnostic clinic to be opened in the country.

The opening of this Lilongwe-based clinic and the installation of allthe advanced healthcare technology has been co-funded under the PSI (Private Sector Initiative) of the Dutch Government and by a consortium of local investors including MCA and DRC Medical.

According to David Bisnowaty, proprietor and investor in the Centre for Medical Diagnostics, the centre will feature fully operating Philips diagnostic equipment – a big step towards offering relevant and meaningful solutions for some of the country’ s most important healthcare challenges. David

“ We are very excited to have such a comprehensive range of Philips diagnostic equipment installed at our clinic. These advanced medical technologies will improve the patient workflow considerably - shortening exam times and leading to increased diagnostic confidence. Our doctors will be able to make more informed decisions faster,” he said.

The installation includes an MX 16-Slice CT scanner, a Duo Diagnost for special X ray procedures, a mammography system for breast cancer screening, an HD9 Ultrasound System, a PCR Eleva High Resolution, and the Philips Media Distribution Centre (MDC) PACS system.

He explained that the latter is a web-based solution that utilizes internet standards and protocols for communication and delivers an easy-to-use, simple-to-install image management system for the distribution and archiving of images - creating a filmless workflow for patients and care providers.

JJ van Dongen lauded the Malawi Government for being very proactive in recognising that healthcare expenditure is going to be a big burden on the economy and has placed huge emphasis on healthcare development.

“ This is a very encouraging sign and Philips is committed to continue working with the Ministry of Health by providing improved health solutions and technologies. We want to help shorten hospital stays, reduce costs and improve the quality of people’ s lives,” he said.

The Malawi government has said the Medical Diagnostic Centre is a welcome development and an important leap forward in the quality of Malawian healthcare and good news for the people of Lilongwe and Malawians as a whole.

“ Government alone cannot meet the health needs of all Malawians - that is where this initiative is very welcome,” said Dr. Charles Mwansambo, Principal Secretary in the ministry of health for Malawi.

He said many doctors are unable to offer accurate patient analysis, due to the lack of diagnostic facilities and equipment.

“ To date, the shortage of advanced medical facilities in Malawi required many patients to search for improved treatment outside the country, primarily in South Africa – a very costly and time consuming option available only to a select few,” he said.

Even today patients in Lilongwe and the Central and Northern regions of Malawi are referred to Blantyre to receive mammography services and CT scans as these services are unavailable in Lilongwe or anywhere else in the country.

Bisnowaty said what will be happening at the centre will improve the health delivery in the country as once a patient has been diagnosed they will be able to e-mail the results to a doctor in India or South Africa who will then proceed with prescriptions and how the required treatment could be sought.

“ We have taken a big step towards e-health with the installation of the Philips MDC PACS system, as it will lead the charge with offering a truly digital environment in Malawi. Doctors will now have access to patient images, regardless of their location,” he said.

He said geographical boundaries can now be crossed and international experts can remotely diagnose patients in Malawi.

“ When a physician can accurately and quickly make a diagnosis, the patient stands to benefit through earlier treatment options,” he added.

The Centre for Medical Diagnostics is scheduled to open its doors in August 2011 and will be located in the Northern wing of the ABC Community Clinic. The diagnostic clinic will offer services such as Radiology, Haematology, Bacteriology, Serology and Biochemistry. It will employ 25 healthcare professionals.

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