Tele-Medicine in Colombia
In January 2010, two of the Costa Foundation trustees opened La Esperanza (Hope) School in Vergara, Cundinamarca Region, Colombia. The school is in a very remote part of Colombia and is perched on top of a mountain.
As the school was being constructed; a farmer from Vergara visited his sister in Bogota and saw a Discovery programme on her TV (he earns about $1 a day and has no TV). The programme was about Tele-Medicine which is the use of Skype technology to diagnose illnesses remotely. As he drove back to Vergara he started to think:
- Costa Foundation is building a school with large classrooms so we’d have plenty of space.
- Intel are providing the children with computers
- We have elderly people in our village that would currently have to travel 447 kms (278 miles) to Bogota just to be diagnosed.
- Why don’t we bring Tele-Medicine to our village?
When the farmer got back to his community; he personally championed the idea of introducing Tele-Medicine and persuaded the building committee to let him make the idea actually happen. Over the next 5 months, he:
- Persuaded Bogota University to provide two Specialist Consultants to do the diagnosis.
- Persuaded Intel to fund the correct computer
- Persuaded Skype to support the project
- Persuaded the construction committee to build a surgery room within the main school hall.
Once the diagnosis started happening it became apparent that whilst this was a brilliant idea for diagnosing illnesses, the patient still had to travel huge distances to be treated. However; the project worked so well that Bogota University have now provided two full time GP’s in Vergara as well as the medicines and equipment needed to carry out 90 % of all required treatments.
The outcome means that an elderly person in Vergara requiring one diagnosis and two sessions of treatment can now have all of this carried out without leaving the community whereas before the introduction of TM they may well have had to travel 2,684 kms (1,668 miles).
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