Telemedicine in Africa

Since the onset of the COVID pandemic, there has been an upsurge of interest in “telehealth”: the delivery of traditional mental health services through telephone or video call. This is an acceleration of a longer-term trend in mental health care generally. Arguably the next decade will see many traditional mental health care functions usurped, or at least supplemented, by the smartphone.

The truly radical effects of this transformation, however, may lie elsewhere. The Lancet Digital Health has recently published an article: Africa turns to telemedicine to close the mental health gap. From the point of view of mental health, there are two striking facts about mental health care in Africa: the vast need for mental health care, and the rapid expansion of mobile phone networks in Africa. This article is a compelling survey of how those two facts bear on each other. It is essential reading for anyone interested in mental health and development.

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