How Bitcoin is saving lives in Zambia and Malawi with MetaLair and the Virtual Doctors

How Bitcoin is ‘saving lives in Zambia and Malawi’ with MetaLair and the Virtual Doctors

Only a decade ago, smartphones didn’t even exist, certainly not as we know them and cryptocurrency wasn’t even a thing! Yet today, the first UK charity to accept bitcoin in 2013, expand their efforts into Malawi with the help of the Virtual Doctors and MetaLair.

In 1998 a British safari guide named Huw Jones was driving through the remote Zambian bush when he came upon a trail of sticky blood on the dusty road. Following the trail for several miles, Huw caught up with a heavily pregnant woman slumped on a bicycle as her husband pedalled frantically in the relentless heat to get her to the nearest hospital, some 60km away.

Despite Huw’s efforts, the huge blood loss lead to both mother and unborn baby dying in the back of the jeep, leaving a devastating effect on Huw and a conviction to do something that would make a difference. This brought about the conception for the Virtual Doctors’.

The Virtual Doctors provide clinical officers in remote areas of Zambia, with a smartphone and an ‘easy to use’ telemedicine software app, enabled through a mobile telecommunications network. When a patient with a complex or unusual condition arrives, the Clinical Officer uses the app to create a patient case file and sends this via the cloud which notifies a ‘Virtual Doctor’, typically a specialist in the field in the UK or Zambia. The qualified doctor then responds to the Clinical Officer and provides relevant diagnosis, instructions and recommendations. We now have over 60 volunteer doctors on our register, covering 18 different medical specialities, actively receiving daily enquiries from our app.


Always a forward thinking charity, the Virtual Doctors approached MetaLair in 2013 for help, to enable them to be the first third sector organisation in the world to accept donations in bitcoin. MetaLair provided Virtual Doctors with advice and the guidance, as well as installing a hierarchical deterministic cold storage wallet, allowing the Virtual Doctors to accept donations from private addresses, sort funds off-line, and make payments securely online without exposing their private keys to the internet. The first of its kind, there’s now the opportunity to roll this out into Malawi, where currently there’s 50,000 patients to 1 doctor.

For this to happen the Virtual Doctors need to raise £40,000 to fund this new area of expansion into Malawi.

The Virtual Doctors are actively raising donations to help save lives in Malawi and Zambia and are delighted to see this year more donations using bitcoin.

Whether traditional currency or bitcoin, just £5 per month could help fund the internet bandwidth cost for a clinical officer to access the Virtual Doctors.

£200 donation could pay for a handheld device used by a clinical officer in a rural clinic.

£500 donation could fund the training of a clinical officer as well as set up costs in the clinic.

£1000 donation could bring a new clinic onto the Virtual doctors platform, complete with bandwidth for a whole year, with the potential to service 12,000 patients.

£20,000 could bring 20 clinics onto the platform, serving over 240,000 patients.

If you would like to help the Virtual Doctors with their expansion into Malawi then please do get in touch with the or donate directly


The British Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Consultancy, established in 2012, providing advice, guidance and services regarding Bitcoin, Ethereum, MaidSafe, blockchain and cryptocurrencies to clients including banks, governments, the crown, NGOs, and charities.