Through a public-private partnership, the U.S. Department of State has launched a telemedicine service in Pakistan, thereby taking the transformative power of high speed connectivity to improving social services in remote areas.
IBM, Wateen Telecom, Motorola, Medweb, USAID, the U.S. Department of Defense Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Center, Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi, District Headquarters Hospital in Attock, and the Government of Pakistan, are the other partners involved besides the U.S. Department of States. Moreover, the involvement of the U.S. Embassys has been critical for the project's success.
This Telemedicine service would enable healthcare providers to deliver high quality medical services for patients in remote locations – services that would otherwise be lacking or absent. The public-private partnership is using telemedicine to help broaden and strengthen technical capabilities supporting the hub, Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi, with the spoke in District Attock. Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world – a nation of 173 million people, said internationally recognized telemedicine expert and surgeon, Dr. Asif Zafar. The aim of this project is to use technology's ability to overcome the significant divide in healthcare services,in a scenario where 75 percent of the population lives in rural areas but only 22 percent of the doctors work there.
About the cost incured in the project, the U.S. Government contributed $220,000 towards the purchase state-of-the-art telemedicine equipment and services in order to operationalize the project.
These equipments combine an Internet-access portal including interactive collaboration tools such as secure email, voice and video conferencing on a secure telemedicine network with advanced medical peripheral devices such as portable ultrasound, digital cameras, EKG, stethoscope and X-ray machines.
WiMAX enabled new system leverages the low-cost, ubiquitous power of the Internet to connect hub hospitals to what the team hopes will be an increasing number of spoke clinics. In addition, the system can access and engage the help of medical experts working at some of the most elite medical institutions in Pakistan and around the world.
This telemedicine project is already into providing medical care like pre-operative planning and follow-up; cardiac assessment; ophthalmology, dermatology, radiology, infectious disease, and perinatal evaluations; and medical triage for traumas and acute illness.
Under the U.S. Governments Digital Freedom Initiative,the U.S. Department of State through this Pakistan Telemedicine Project, is demonstrating the transformative power of telecommunications technology which seeks to encourage the spread of technology to the developing world, said Ferial Saeed, Deputy U.S. Coordinator & Office Director for International Communications & Information Policy.