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Telemedicine to reach rural areas of Caldas, Colombia via satellite

Telemedicine arrived in Santa Clara, a municipality that is located more than six hours from Manizales, capital of the department of Caldas. Through satellite technology internet services were enabled for the development of telemedicine in the region.

In Caldas, one of Colombia's 32 departments, telemedicine services have begun to be implemented in rural areas, where until recently it was difficult to gain access to the internet. Thanks to satellite technology, telemedicine services will connect patients in remote areas with specialist physicians.

One of the communities benefited is Santa Clara, from the municipality of Marulanda, in this town, the transfers of its inhabitants were the only option to access medical services. This project was made possible by Telesalud of the University of Caldas, and it was the professionals of this university who installed the necessary tools for the exercise of telemedicine.

"We managed to care for older adults who had been waiting for attention for more than a year or who are afraid to travel to Manizales to be cared for by a professional. This is a great achievement, because they never expected a type of service to get there, where there is no cell phone signal and much less internet,” said Esteban Granada, director of Telehealth.

The director of Telesalud, acknowledged that these months during the pandemic, have made rapid progress in telemedicine infrastructure: “We achieved what would have taken between 10 and 12 years. The country had already been making progress on this, but in Caldas there were many challenges that we began to overcome thanks to the interest and support of different entities, including the Governorate of Caldas,” Granada argued.

The official explained that satellite technology has a stable and quality internet connection, so specialist physicians will be able to provide an appropriate diagnostic service to patients. The attentions will be conducted by a general doctor in the area, who through the technological tools will connect with the specialist.

Currently, Telesalud of the University of Caldas has provided free medical care to more than 180,000 people within the department of Caldas, both in urban areas such as Manizales, as well as in rural areas.

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