Tele-medicine services will become operational between India, Bhutan and Sri Lanka by this year end, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said recently. “To start the tele-medicine services by September this year, a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between India and Bhutan,” he said adding that after this the service would become operational between Indian and Sri Lanka too by the year-end. “The Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research here has been chosen as one of the super-speciality institutes for implementation of telemedicine programme in SAARC countries”, Mukherjee said while addressing the students and faculty during the 29th annual Convocation of the Institute. Pointing to the importance of quality health care among the poor, he said “he 10th Plan allocation for health was INR 42,000 crore. The 11th Plan envisages tripling the allocation”. Praising the faculty of the PGIMER, he said “since the faculty was among the best in India I would urge the doctors to focus their energies on answering the health needs of this country.” “We need a lot more grass-roots research on the epidemiology of our diseases, on infections, on nutrition and its interaction with disease processes, on simplified treatment regimens, and so on,” he said.