30 March 2010
By Sumitra Deb Roy
With The Help Of Telemedicine, 11 Super-Speciality Hosps Reach Out To Doctors & Patients In Africa
The student doctors will meet at the telemedicine centre in a local hospital in Madagascar, which is the only healthcare centre in the area with ultrasound, radiology and X–ray facilities. Madagascarbased Dr Manish Dhanja, who is coordinating the educational meet, is elated as many professionals like him will get to learn the nuances of cardiac diagnosis.
A fortnight ago, Nanavati Hospital became one of the 11 hospitals in India to get the goahead from the central government, and be part of a panel of super–specialty hospitals that will be reaching out to 53 African nations. A vision of former president Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, the Pan African enetwork project, aims at reaching out to nations in Africa. Already, 30 African nations, including Tanzania, Nigeria, Zambia, Rwanda and Uganda, have uploaded satellite links and are ready to interact with their Indian counterparts. Another 23 countries are in the process of setting up telemedicine centres. The project, worth Rs 1,200 crore, took four years in the making, and aims to train around 10,000 African medical students in branches such as cardiology, neurology, gynaecology, radiology, urology, among others. Besides education, African doctors can consult with their Indian counterparts on different cases.
Head of telemedicine centre and cardiac surgeon at Nanavati Hospital, Dr Pavan Kumar said, “Telemedicine is the future and it is nothing less than a revolution.”
Besides, Nanavati, Apollo Hospitals from Chennai; Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre, New Delhi; Narayana Hrudayalya, Bangalore; and AIIMS, New Delhi have also been roped in by the government for the project, which will be carried out in a phased manner. “Other countries are also showing interest and willing to be a part of the project,’’ said Dr Rakesh Kumar Upadhyay, chairman and managing director of Telecommunications Consultants India Limited (TCIL), New Delhi.
Bridging the Great Divide
- Telemedicine is the use of electronic information and communication technologies to provide healthcare irrespective of physical proximity between doctor & patient
- Such a facility requires software to enhance doctor–patient communication, highresolution cameras, as well as video–conferencing facilities
- The cost of setting up one such centre can range from Rs 60,000 to several crores depending on the technology installed
- The initial cost of the project, which is funded by the Indian government, is pegged at Rs 1,200 crore
- 11 super–specialty hospitals from India will reach out to 53 nations across Africa
- India will provide online medical consultation to each country for a specified number of hours daily
- Advice will be given to 5 patients per day per country
- 10,000 African students will be able to work with seven universities in disciplines such as medicine, cardiology, neurology, oncology, diseases, etc.
- Hospitals involved in the project include: Nanavati, Apollo Hospitals from Chennai; Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre, New Delhi; Narayana Hrudayalya, Bangalore; AIIMS, New Delhi
- There are 31 telemedicine centres set–up under the National Rural Health Mission at district hospitals across the state. Another 30 sub–district centres are slated to be set up in the near future
- Each centre has an ECG scanner, printer, computers with internet and live chat facilities, and satellite connections to help doctors send and receive patients’ data
- Whenever a district hospital is faced with a complicated case, doctors can consult with their urban counterparts and specialists. Consulting doctors examine the patients’ medical history and advise accordingly.
- J J Hospital and KEM in Mumbai; B J Medical College, Pune; and the Government Medical College in Aurangabad are a part of the project