On Wednesday 20 September, trustees and supporters of the Virtual Doctors were joined by an array of guests at Lancing College to discuss the charity’s use of telemedicine in rural, poverty-stricken areas in Africa.
During the event Huw Jones, the founder of the Virtual Doctors, recounted his experience in rural Zambia that later resulted in the charity’s formation: several years ago, Huw came across a desperate man attempting to cycle his wife, who was heavily pregnant and haemorrhaging, to a hospital along a 60 km dirt road. Despite their best efforts, she tragically passed away in Huw’s vehicle en route - a devastating outcome which demonstrated the dire need for improved medical services.
In view of this, Huw oversaw discussions with doctors from other countries, all of whom were eager to provide their medical expertise. Despite their willingness, distance initially proved to be an obstacle. Fortunately, this was soon resolved through Huw’s “mobile technology revolution”. This life-saving idea connects doctors from all over the world to remote and impoverished health centres in rural sub-Saharan Africa.
Ayn P from the Upper Sixth, who attended the event, gives her account of the evening:
‘Our aspiring Sixth Form medics networked with an interesting group of attendees including members of the public, Virtual Doctors volunteers, the Mayor and Mayoress of Worthing and the Deputy High Commissioner of Malawi. The founder of the charity, Huw Jones, gave an inspiring presentation about his experience behind the cause and the immense impact their telemedicine software has had in saving the lives of those in Zambia and Malawi. We greatly admire the valuable work of the Virtual Doctors and, in light of this, we have thought of a number of ways to fundraise for telemedicine, including cake sales and taking part in the Worthing 10k run.’
Lancing College pupils have a long-standing commitment to other Malawi-based causes, which includes supporting a hospital and three children’s homes. The funds are raised principally through an annual sponsored walk and individual fundraising efforts by pupils going on the biennial Lancing expedition to Malawi.