February 2007

India Update

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Madhya Pradesh commences e-healthcare

Neonatal care through videoconfere-ncing is finally here. Sagar district in Madhya Pradesh, India has achieved that distinction. In fact, Sagar will be the first district of Madhya Pradesh to have videoconferencing facility in its four community medical obstetric neonatal care centers.

The pilot project has already been successfully launched between the Sagar district hospital and Bina's (a town located in Sagar district) community medical obstetric neonatal care centre.

In near future, this video conferencing system will be extended to Khurai, Sahagarh and Devri too. All of these towns are located in the Sagar district. On completion, this project will enable the doctors in Bina, Khurai, Sahagarh and Devri to interact and consult with specialists in the Sagar district hospital, which in turn will be connected with the Apollo Hospital.

With the complete establishment of this videoconferencing link, the doctors in these community medical neonatal care centers will not have to refer some of their challenging cases to the Sagar district hospital for want of proper infrastructure and facilities, which causes lots of logistic problem for the patients. Instead of the patient moving to the doctor, the doctor will virtually move to the patient with relevant medical advice. If the project takes off well, poor villagers in Madhya Pradesh will be able to get quality medical care at par with the affluent patients in metros.

e-Health arrives in rural India

American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (APPI) has signed a three-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Confederation of Indian Industries and Indian American Council to give an impetus to the development of the healthcare sector in India, with focus on rural areas. As a result of this partnership, mobile medical units and telemedicine centers will soon be introduced to one hundred Indian villages.

CII has committed 100 healthy villages across the states of Bihar, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, and corporates like Hero Honda, Bharti Airtel and Infosys would adopt these villages. Hero Honda will take charge of 20 villages, while Bharti Airtel will adopt 10 villages.

AAPI aims to promote better hygiene, clean drinking water and clean toilets in these villages in collaboration with the state governments. As part of this initiative, all these hundred villages will have mobile medical units and their primary healthcare centers will have telemedicine facilities. Telemedicine will connect the health centres and district hospitals.

The first pilot project will take off in the Patna district of Bihar. According to S. Balasubramanium, President of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, AAPI already has collaboration with the Patna Medical College and NTR Medical College in Andhra Pradesh. Both these academic institutions will help AAPI to execute the project.

According to Balasubramanium,  AAPI will focus on five major diseases in these villages, which are diabetes, cardiovascular problems, deafness among children, carcinoma cervix and carcinoma prostate. Despite being curable, they result in deaths due to late detection. In this context, telemedicine can solve the problem in a better manner, as poor patients in these villages can get access to world-class medical care through telemedicine, without any untoward delay.

Telemedicine to get a leg up thanks to CII

Industry representatives, corporates and diaspora doctors are coming together for the cause of health in India with special focus on rural citizens.  The Healthy Village project, part of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) plan to forge a linkage with the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) is ready to take off with an MoU soon. 

Says Dr Naresh Trehan, chairman, CII's national committee on healthcare,  “The MoU will enable us to bring in a lot of knowledge transfer from AAPI.” 

With this MoU and activation of telemedicine, many Indian villages can get access to AAPI's base of doctors to facilitate transfer of knowledge and technology along with the development of emergency medical services. 

The programme will initially target 100 villages. Work has already started in Patna district of Bihar, and some parts of Rajasthan. Haryana, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh are also high on the list. The AAPI claims a base of over 42,000 physicians. According to Dr Subramaniam Balasubramaniam, “There are five major areas needing urgent attention. Cancer of the cervix, cancer of the prostrate, heart disease, diabetes and deafness in children that are preventable through timely intervention.” 

Corporates across the country have already pledged support to the CII initiative and offered to adopt villages and make the health drive a self-sufficient movement.

Sam Pitroda, chairman, IAC and Knowledge Commission commented: “We want to start telemedicine in the rural areas and we require broadband. At the moment we need to build 100 networks connecting 5,000 nodes in India.”   

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