Every time Catherine Coulibaly’s 19-year-old son had to make a routine appointment with the cardiologist for his heart condition, she gritted her teeth as she silently counted the financial cost.
It wasn’t just the hospital fee — there was the transport, food and accommodation, too, all of it amounting to a hefty burden for an Ivorian family on a modest income.
But thanks to telemedicine – consultations that doctors conduct through the internet or by phone – this cost is now a fading memory.
Her son can book an appointment at a telemedicine facility in a nearby town in northern Ivory Coast.
There, he is attached to monitoring machines which send the data sent to Bouake University Hospital in the centre of the country, where it is scrutinised by a heart doctor.
The fledgling technology has long been championed by health advocates for rural economies.
Ivory Coast has become an African testbed for it, thanks to a project linking the Bouake hospital’s cardiac department with health centres in several northern towns, some of which are a four-hour drive away.
Telemedicine “caused a sigh of relief for the population of Bouake, Boundiali, Korhogo, everyone,” says Auguste Dosso, president of the “Little Heart” association, which helps families with cardiac health issues.
Some 45 percent of the Ivorian population live below the poverty line, according to the World Bank’s latest estimate in 2017. And the minimum monthly wage — not always respected — is only around $100, or 90 euros.
Heart disease surging
The pioneer behind the scheme is cardiologist Florent Diby, who set up an association called Wake Up Africa.
In Ivory Coast, heart disease, diabetes and other “lifestyle” ailments are surging, Diby explained.
“Urbanisation is making people more sedentary, and there’s the rise in tobacco consumption, changes in diet, stress,” Diby said.
Three decades ago, only around one in eight of the Ivorian population had high blood pressure — now the figure is one in four, on a par with parts of Western Europe.
But in Ivory Coast — and across Africa — well-equipped cardiology units are rare.
“Ninety percent of heart attacks can be diagnosed by telemedicine, so for us cardiologists it’s a revolutionary technology,” said Diby.
The beauty of the telemedicine scheme is that neither the doctor nor the patient has to travel far.
The cardiac patient is hooked up to the electrocardiogram (ECG) and other diagnostic machines with the help of a technician in a local health centre, which is connected to a computer in Bouake’s University Hospital.
The cardiologist there can then see the results in real time, provide a diagnosis and prescribe treatment.
The five-year-old project has already linked 10 health centres to the seven cardiologists at Bouake, enabling 4,800 patients in other towns to receive consultations by telemedicine each year. The goal is to expand this to 20 sites, doubling the intake.
Expertise France, the French public agency for international technical assistance, subsidises up to 185,000 euros of the network, which pays for equipment such as computers, artificial intelligence software and internet connections.
Diby is now calling for telemedicine to be expanded in other medical fields such as neurology and psychiatry, not just in the Ivory Coast, but across West Africa too.
That opinion is shared by other experts. Sixty per cent of Africans live in rural areas, where shortages of doctors are usually acute.
But numerous hurdles need to be overcome, especially investment in computers and access to the internet, according to a 2013 analysis published by the US National Library of Medicine.
Zozibini Tunzi sends message to South Africans after being crowned Miss Universe
The show which lasted 3 hours was hosted by Steve Harvey and former beauty queen and actress, Vanessa Lachey
Reigning Miss South Africa, Zozibini Tunzi has been crowned Miss Universe 2019. The Beauty queen’s crowning as the 68th Miss Universe took place on Sunday, 8 December 2019 at the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
The show which lasted 3 hours was hosted by the famous comedian, Steve Harvey alongside former beauty queen and actress, Vanessa Lachey.
Ally Brooke from Fifth Harmony musical group thrilled the audience with her wonderful performances.
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Beautiful Tunzi was crowned by departing Miss Universe 2018, Catriona Gray as pageantry tradition demands. Tunzi is now the third South African to have been crowned Miss Universe. Others were Margaret Gardiner and Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters who were crowned in 1978 and 2017 respectively.
Her crowning also launched the brand-new “Power of Unity” crown which is said to be worth about R73 million.
The newly-crowned queen has come out to thank South Africans for the support they gave her during the pageantry. While speaking after her victory, the 26-year who hails from Tsolo, Sidwadweni in East Cape said:
“Ah, I’m so ecstatic. I think everyone is still waking up by the way. They are going to wake up to a storm of news. I don’t think I have ever had as much support as I did coming into the Miss South Africa crown and so I think this will be something extra and very special for everyone back at home.”
South Africans are awake and have reacted brilliantly to the news of Zozibini Tunzi being crowned Miss Universe 2019 on Twitter. See what some have said:
While one Twitter user who goes by the handle @Loisabels18 refers to the fact that Zozibini Tunzi was crowned by the immediate past Miss Universe from the Philippines who received her own crown from a former South African Miss Universe, another user tweeted “…Nothing could ever beat natural African beauty.”
Body recovered after vehicle plunges into Indian Ocean
Police and family members have identified the sole occupant of the vehicle as John Mutinda, 46
The body of a man and his vehicle have been recovered from the Likoni channel, Kenya, following an accident where his car plunged into the ocean at 4:20 am local time on Saturday morning. Police and family members have identified the sole occupant of the vehicle as John Mutinda, 46.
According to a statement issued Bakari Gowa, the Managing Director of the Kenya Ferry Services (KFS), the driver attempted to avoid the toll station and drove into the loading area from the wrong side of the road. Attempts to were made by ferry staff to stop him but he proceeded to drive at top speed off the ramp and into the ocean.
Multi-agency rescue efforts by the Kenya Coast Guard, the Kenya Ferry Services, the Kenya Navy and the Police were launched immediately. The body of the deceased was subsequently recovered at 9:30 am on Saturday morning and transported to the Coast General Hospital Mortuary by police. Retrieval efforts continued thereafter, resulting in the retrieval of the vehicle from the channel at 12:00 pm.
The accident comes barely three months after a woman and child tragically drowned in a separate accident when their vehicle reversed while on a ferry and sank into the channel mid-transit.
Tropical cyclone Pawan makes landfall in Nugaal, Somalia
The storm hit the coastal city of Eyl in the Nugaal region, bringing with it heavy rainfall and turbulent winds.
Tropical cyclone Pawan has made landfall on Saturday morning, affecting the northeastern part of Somalia as predicted earlier in the week.
The storm hit the coastal city of Eyl in the Nugaal region, bringing with it heavy rainfall and turbulent winds. The town has borne the brunt of the storm, with locals reporting of fishermen’s boats capsizing off the coast and a cell tower belonging to Golis Telecom falling and causing damage to adjacent buildings.
A forecast issued by the Somali Water and Land Information Management (SWALIM) on Tuesday warned of heavy rainfall and strong winds over the north and central parts of the Horn of Africa country over the course of the next few days.
Elsewhere in Puntland state, the regional government delayed all flights leaving Garowe airport as a result of heavy rains and floods, by-products of the cyclone. There have also been local reports of 2 vehicles being swept away near Bossasso.
The storm is expected to decline in intensity as it moves inland.
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