If there is to be a Virtual Doctor Project – why not a Virtual Librarian Project?

The mission of the Virtual Doctor Project is to “Connect African clinic staff on the ground by email with doctors and specialists in urban areas and overseas, to assist with the diagnosis and treatment of patients” – especially those in rural areas where there is no doctor within miles to provide an effective diagnosis in cases which are outside the competence of local staff.

The project, beginning in early 2012, will be based in a Ministry Health Clinic in the Kafue District of southern Zambia and aims to use simple store and forward technology to connect staff in clinics and health centres with a roster of experienced doctors in Zambia and beyond.  Initially the project team will, “develop procedures, test the efficacy of the ‘store and forward’ telemedicine system, build links with stakeholders, and determine the impact on local communities”.

They are looking for doctors with access to a computer who would be willing to provide diagnoses under this scheme – contact  info@virtualdoctors.org for more information. See also on this weblog: Using a Blackberry phone for quick diagnosis (put Blackberry in the ‘Search’ box to find it(

P.S. Is it time for African librarians to consider working together to provide information backup with a specifically African flavour for initiatives like these and to health personnel in general?

Thanks to Neil Pakenham Walsh for bringing this to our attention on HIFA-Zambia

Jean Shaw, Partnerships in Health Information


About jgreigshaw

I work with Partnerships in Health Information which promotes partnership between libraries in Africa and the UK with an emphasis in African leadership. I have visited Kenya, Mali, Uganda and Zambia though Phi has contacts in many more African countries.
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2 Responses to If there is to be a Virtual Doctor Project – why not a Virtual Librarian Project?

  1. Scott says:

    This is a really cool idea. I can imagine that the necessary technologies (blackberries and so on) would also be difficult to come by. It can also be very hard to make a firm diagnosis from a picture and a list of symptoms. But this is clearly much better than not having a doctor at all.

  2. jgreigshaw says:

    There is already something of the kind on a world wide scale http://www.online-information.co.uk/online2010/conference/conference_presentation_2010.html?presentation_id=1257 – this was a paper given at an online conference in 2010. About 3000 librarians are involved and they cover the globe via USA, UK, India (and I have forgotten the other(s) but it is not in Africa. There are also a number of more local 24/7 services if you google librarians 24/7.

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