Telerehabilitation In South Africa – Is There A Way Forward?
South Africa, like the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, has a disproportionate burden of disease and a shortage of health professionals. Telemedicine has been identified as a possible way of overcoming part of the problem but telemedicine has not been widely adopted. In the public sector hospitals in South Africa which serve 82% of the population there are 2.5 physiotherapists and 2 occupational therapists per 100,000 people served. The extent of telerehabilitation in South Africa is unknown. A literature review of telerehabilitation found no papers from South Africa. A survey of the heads of university departments of physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language pathology revealed limited knowledge of telerehabilitation. Telerehabilitation services are confined to follow-up of patients at some institutions by telephone, fax or email. There is need to raise awareness among therapists if telerehabilitation is to become a reality in South Africa. Future actions are outlined.
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