While all over the country of Rwanda and in the East African region it tends to be difficult for people in need for rehabilitation services to find rehabilitation professionals to help them return to normal life, at this time Digital Rehabilitation approach has been launched as a potential solution), It will help patients find rehabilitation professionals to help them via technology.
This program is being prepared by the Regional Center of Excellence in Biomedical Engineering and E-health (CEBE) of the University of Rwanda in collaboration with JAMK University of Applied Sciences Finland.
It is an approach that supports the existing health system, whereby rehabilitation professionals will be able to help the patients to return to the normal life via digital devices. It was required that the patient from the rural areas had to walk more 20 kilometers and some more than 40 km to find a rehabilitation professional to help him.
It is a program that supports the existing ones, which the doctors were able to help the patients to return to the normal life that they used to use, where it was required that the patient from the rural areas had to walk about 20 kilometers to find a doctor to help him.
Byiriringo Jean Baptiste, Chief Digital Officer (CDO) in the Ministry of Health
It is an approach which Byiriringo Jean Baptiste, Chief Digital Officer (CDO) in the Ministry of Health says that due to the small number of rehabilitation professionals that are there, this approach is going to be a solution where one rehabilitation professional will be able to help many patients in a short time and empower them.
He said, "The reason why this method is reliable and necessary is that in our country and elsewhere in the region; there is a small number of rehabilitation professionals that prevents them from reaching all the patients through with in the current health system, using this will be a potential solution to the problem. I would say it is necessary because of the small number of rehabilitation professionals and the necessity to provide these services.”
Bigirimana Jean Damascene Ngamba, Community Manager of JAMK
Bigirimana Jean Damascene Ngamba, Community Manager of JAMK says that in Rwanda there is a small number of rehabilitation professionals compared to the number of patients they have to take care of, what they would do is to increase the capacity of those few rehabilitation professionals so that they can take care of as many patients as possible.
He said: "What we are doing is to increase digital literacy in Rehabilitation professionals. We are trying to see how people use technology to access rehabilitation services and try to use digital devices to be in contact with rehabilitation professionals. These services are not currently available to all people; we have less than 400 rehabilitation professionals in the system while we need more than 3,000 compared to the population of more than 13 million. What we are doing is trying to see that we can use technology to avail rehabilitation services to all and in all places."
Gasana Juliette, Lecturer at the University of Rwanda, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, said that this approach will be the answer and that it started to be used in Rwanda when COVID-19 was threatening the world.
She said: “This method of treatment with the help rehabilitation professionals to deliver services; it has started to be used in developed countries but here in Rwanda we are just starting."
Prof David Tumusiime, PHD, Deputy Director of CEBE
The Deputy Director of CEBE, Prof. David Tumusiime PhD says that they are conducting research and have been approved by the Ministry of Health, where they are now starting to test technologies to help patients return to normal life.
Prof David says that this approach will solve the problem of lack of capacity of the rehabilitation professionals in managing many patients because they will treat some virtually.
He said: "This method answers the problem by increasing the ability to provide rehabilitation services. He added that the concept is called digital rehabilitation; the rehabilitation services will be offered to the people via digital technologies and patients will be helped without having to come to the health facility or coming less times than it used to be."
In Rwanda, more than 75% of people with disabilities live in rural areas and these are among the ones who need rehabilitation services. This requires them to travel a long way to be able to see a qualified rehabilitation professional who can help them.
Digital Rehabilitation is the way to go; it will make it easier for these people and others to access rehabilitation services using digital devices and hence promote protection as they will access information easily.
By Gilbert Mahame