Residents of Keylong and Kaza in tribal Lahaul & Spiti will soon be able to access services of healthcare specialists through satellite.
The state government recently approved a telemedicine project for the two tribal areas of tribal District for which it roped in Apollo Hospitals.
People living there will be connected through satellite to specialists of Apollo Hospital sitting in New Delhi and Hyderabad.
The government will implement the telemedicine project on a pilot basis and expansion will depend on the results. “After one year the project will be reviewed,” a government official said.
Unlike medical specialists most MBBS doctors opt to work in tribal areas due to hefty allowances.
The telemedicine system will consist of customised hardware and software at both the patient and specialist doctor ends with some of the diagnostic equipment like ECG monitors, X-ray machines and pathology microscopes/cameras provided at the patient end.
They will be connected through a VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) system and technical assistance will also be provided by Apollo Hospital.
Additional chief health secretary Vineet Chaudhary said: “Work on installing the equipment will begin from next March. Staff will be provided by Apollo Hospital and tribal people will be connected with specialists”.
The government had intended to also cover other areas in Lahaul & Spiti district including Reckong Peo of Kinnaur, Pangi of Chamba and Keylong and Kaza but, due to poor connectivity, telemedicine services cannot be provided there at present. “In Keylong and Kaza all types of medical specialty services will be provided, even during winter,” said a government official, requesting anonymity.
Earlier also telemedicine services were launched in Himachal Pradesh but due to nonavailability of high bandwidth connectivity everywhere the project flopped.
Connectivity remains the major reason behind the failure of earlier projects and, learning from earlier experiences, this time connectivity will be provided through satellite.
Telemedicine is delivery of healthcare services by healthcare professionals in areas where distance is a critical factor, using ICE (information & communication technology) for exchange of information on diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and injuries, research and evaluation as well as for continuing education of healthcare providers.