March 2007

An e-Healthy State of Being

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I am starting with a  happy news. The much talked about eHealth Asia 2007 conference, held during 6-8 February 2007 at Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC), Putrajaya, Malaysia, has been an out and out success story. The three-day conference attracted a galaxy of high profile participants ranging from academics, industry and ministry, and created a platform for generating awareness and disseminating useful information about the burgeoning domain of e-Health; a nascent field with immense possibilities.

Going by the response from the conference, it would not be an overstatement to imply that e-Health is destined to make its presence felt in public healthcare, in the very near future. However, today e-Health is not only emerging as an effective tool in catering to the day-to-day healthcare needs of the underprivileged and underserved sections of the society in times of normalcy, but also a technological panacea of sorts in the aftermath of any natural disaster. In fact, the crucial role of ICT in providing relief to the hapless victims of disasters and catastrophes, through telehealth, has been recognized in a very big way. The telemental health support of the recent tsunami survivors in Tamil Nadu, India is a pertinent case in point, which we have covered in our cover story.

Here it deserves a mention that after the tsunami, relief operations were carried out by the Indian government machinery and relief agencies on a war-footing, but those operations mostly concentrated on providing immediate relief, such as caring for the injured, disposal of the dead bodies, providing for sanitation, shelter and disease prevention, etc. The long-term rehabilitation phase, which also involves treating the mental trauma of the survivors (which generally emerges as a disorder only after a few weeks after the disaster), was largely inadequate. That is where SATHI (Society for Administration of Telemedicine and Healthcare Informatics) stepped in with lots of humanity, and ICT sulutions to address the issue of mental and psychological health among the survivors, despite several odds. Read more about it in the interesting feature.

I would like to add that the stupendous success of eHealth Asia 2007 has entrusted greater responsibility on us. We are going to organize eIndia 2007 in Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, during 31 July- 02 August 2007, and the event is slated to attract the best of the best in the world of ICT and development. eHealth India 2007 is positioned as an integral part of this eIndia 2007 conference. eHealth India 2007  will deliberate and parley on major e-Health initiatives and endeavours happening across the globe, with a special focus on India. I am sure the entire exercise is going to raise awareness and interest about myriad eHealth developments spearheading our times and their usability in the Indian context.

Let me end this on a happy note. A 21.9 percent hike in the allocation on health and family welfare in the 2007-08 budget, does have the latent potential of infusing greater health in the e-healthcare scenario of the future.We look forward with anticipation to the developments ahead …

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