A life-saving clinic has been set up in the Democratic Republic of Congo thanks to a donation from Darlington Rotary.
Rotary gave £1,500 to the UK charity TeleEEG after hearing how diagnosing and treating epilepsy was non-existent in under-resourced parts of the world.
Now a telemedicine clinic – which refers to the practice of caring for patients remotely when the provider and patient are not physically present with each other – has been commissioned in the Katanga region of the country.
The DRC is often called ‘the poorest rich country in the world’ because rich resources are coupled with extreme poverty, with 77% of the population living on less than $1.75 a day.
TeleEEG Trustee and Programme Manager, Charlotte Stow, who lives in Rokeby near Barnard Castle, visited Darlington Rotary to tell members about the rapidly expanding charity, which now has 68 consultants in its virtual global team, currently supporting 37 clinics in 17 countries. The charity was ‘born’ in the North East and set up by consultant Dr Steve Coates from Newcastle. Since a UK pilot in 2011 and the first TeleEEG clinic in Nepal in 2012, the organisation went on to become a registered charity in 2016.
Charlotte said: ‘The generosity of Darlington Rotary has enabled us purchase EEG equipment and carry out training to help those suffering from epilepsy. Before this the nearest EEG machine was 2,000 kilometres away in Kinshasa.’
Dr Kazadi, the physician who instigated the project, at the recommendation of TeleEEG’s partner organisation in the United States, the ROW Foundation, said that people with epilepsy in the DRC are shunned socially, and sometimes endure physical, psychological or sexual abuse at home or in the community. Poor patients face difficult choices between buying medication or feeding their families.
‘Now they can be diagnosed and treated quickly. The first clinic generated six cases and volunteer TeleEEG medical consultants in the UK, US and Egypt have been able to provide much needed advice for diagnosis remotely.’
Chair of Darlington Rotary International Committee, Jane Bradshaw, said: ‘We were very impressed by the work that TeleEEG does and felt this fulfilled our brief as part of an international organisation, aimed at helping those less fortunate than ourselves.’
8th June 2020