Press Statement: Call for improved cellular network coverage over rural health facilities

Johannesburg, 13 November 2015

The Rural Doctors Association of Southern Africa (RuDASA) would like to call on South African cellular network providers to prioritise the improvement of coverage at rural health facilities.

Although access to mobile telephones have helped those of us living and working in rural areas circumvent many of the challenges posed by the lack of communications and transport infrastructure, health care workers (HCWs) still find themselves in difficult situations when cellular network coverage is weak to non-existent over health facilities. The current situation for many rural HCWs is frustrating at best and at worst, life-threatening for patients. Over the past decade, mobile telephones have replaced the need for doctors to carry bleepers as hospital speed dials are now linked to personal numbers. Many regional emergency services make use of mobile telephone ‘hotlines’, and when an ambulance or hospital is out of network coverage it has huge implications for response times and indirectly impacts on patient survival and morbidity.