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08 November 2008
Thiruvananthapuram, India
By Don Sebastian


Kozhikode district pioneers SMS system for effective emergency healthcare
If you happen to be anywhere in Kerala’s Kozhikode district, emergency relief is just an SMS away. A government project has put in place a system which allows citizens to get information on the nearest healthcare facility anytime of the day by sending an SMS.

The project, christened Dr SMS, works this way: Anyone seeking medical attention anywhere in the district has to SMS a prescribed format including his Pin code to 9446460600, the same number which returns information on government files in the district collectorate. Within seconds a message containing the nearest hospital’s whereabouts returns.

“Mobile penetration is very high in the state. People are very tech–savvy. Even those who don’t know English can send SMS in English. When reality shows make use of SMS in a big way, why can’t we use it for life–saving purposes,” Kozhikode district collector A Jayathilak, who mooted the idea, said.

The scheme, inaugurated in Kozhikode by chief minister VS Achuthanandan on Friday, will be extended to the entire state.

“Pin code is the most effective method of geographic location. It can be easily communicated through SMS and related software. It becomes easy for the system to locate suitable healthcare facilities near the requirement,” Jayathilak added.

The system is supported by the National Informatics Centre and the state information technology department.

The unique system has been nominated for the national e–governance award 2008–09 in the health sector.

The system gives pointers to blood banks, diagnostic centres, private hospitals, specialty centres, facilities for surgery and ventilators and the list of specialist doctors in the district.

The system fishes out information from a database prepared by the government machinery under the district medical officer, the collector said.

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