Zimbabwean laws that govern e-Health or telemedicine stifle the growth of the sector in the country for they are restrictive in nature, an expert has said.
Cumii Connected Health manager Dr Marlon Nyakabau told TechnoMag that telemedicine in Zimbabwe is lagging behind compared to other countries.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
“The main one being the legislation point of view, that there is lack of legislation to guide, to catalyse the development of e-health or telemedicine. The policies that have been there, a few of them are of inhibitory nature.
“They kind of intimidate innovators.it just bans things because they don’t understand,” he said.
However, Nyakabau said the country is slowly taking off in terms of developing e-health on the back of contributions by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz).
“What the government is doing, what Potraz has done to fund the pilot phase in Manicaland, that’s getting us toward the right direction as well as NGOs coming in, international organisations, ITU, coming in to fund that telemedicine project.
“We are behind but we have begun.We need to get there.
“ We just don’t want it to be in the public sector but what we want is to challenge the private sector that they can intervene. Sustainable business can be pursued in telemedicine,” he said.
He added that apart from the repressive hand of government on e-health matters, there are several factors like infrastructure, culture and electricity.
The main thing is infrastructure. Telemedicine requires broadband. It requires high speed internet for communication that is good particularly in the rural areas where lack of strong internet connections slows things. then the issues of power, electricity based systems. So that limits us.
“Then the issue of culture, some people are not accustomed to being treated by a doctor via a video call. As well as some doctors who are not yet open to such methods of treatment where it’s not necessary to have physical contact with the patient,” said Nyakabau.