Filipino doctors have been extending their virtual healing hands to patients based in remote areas in the country. Initiated two months ago, the University of the Philippines National Telehealth Center (NTHC) is now using any available technology, such as short messaging service (SMS), to extend expertise to at least 30 government doctors stationed in different areas nationwide. For the past two months, the NTHC has been fielding referrals from the doctor to the barrios serving in remote areas. The government doctors use text messaging to refer ‘problematic cases’ to NTHC, which in turn refers these cases to the faculty of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine. The NTHC initiative aims to address the lack of government doctors in the Philippines, especially areas where they have lone practitioners. Experts and specialists are now concentrated in Metro Manila and key cities. There are about 470 areas in the country where there are no government doctors. The NTHC is currently at the ‘testing’ phase, and the project is seen evolving later to include other practitioners like midwives. The NTHC gets at least one case referral a week. Doctors who take part in the initiative earn leave credits.
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