Alwar gets the joy of good health

Thanks to the new telemedicine center at Neemrana- a non descript village in the Alwar district of Rajasthan, known for its Neemrana Fort – the healthcare scenario of Alwar district in Rajasthan is all set for a positive change. The new telemedicine centre at Neemrana village has been set up by a NGO named Khushii, in technical collaboration with the Fortis Charitable Trust. Khushii has started the centre as part of its ongoing Neemrana Community Develop-ment Project. The Fortis Charitable Trust that runs more than 20 telemedicine centres in north India, has joined hands with Khushii as part of its endeavour to generate increasing awareness and providing adequate medical care to the underserved community of India.

The telemedicine center, named as Khushii Telemedicares, has telemedicine networks with Fortis hospitals across India, which now enables the residents of Alwar district, and more particularly the underprivileged villagers from Neemrana and other villages in its vicinity, to access world class medical care within their geographical and financial reach. Except the registration charge of Rs 50, the patients coming to this telemedicine centre do not have to pay any other fees.

Already the centre is registering 25 patients per day, on an average. The numbers are expected to go higher as the word of mouth catches on. The centre is well-equipped with an X-ray machine, an ECG, and a fully equipped pathology lab for testing. Of course, the telemedicine room has a huge television screen, a camera, mike and speaker, and a special computer with broadband facility. About seventy percent of the patients coming to the telemedicine centre to consult with the Fortis specialists, are afflicted with osteo-arthritis.

A digital wave sweeps through Orissa’s rural healthcare

From now on Orissa will not only be known for its rich cultural heritage and turbulent beauty of Bay of Bengal. The state is enhancing its perennial appeal by embracing tomorrow’s technology. The state of Orissa in India is all set to spearhead a digital revolution in the rural healthcare system. Already three government medical college hospitals of the state are linked through telemedicine service, and very soon all the 30 district headquarter hospitals of this state would be linked with the state’s referral hospitals. The telemedicine facilities of the state will be monitored by an exclusive telemedicine centre with state-of-the-art techniques, installed at SCB Medical College and Hospital, located in Cuttack. In the first phase, district headquarter hospitals in Kalahandi, Koraput, Sundargarh and Mayurbhanj would be linked with the three medical college hospitals, which will enable the rural patients from remote corners of these tribal dominated districts to access specialists in the city, merely with the click of a mouse. The state government has approached the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to provide equipments to facilitate the progress of telemedicine in Orissa. According to Dr. B.N. Mohanty of SCB Medical College and Hospital, equipments worth about Rs. 8 lakhs would be required for each telemedicine center. Telemedicine facility would be extended to other districts in the state in a phased manner as soon as the diagnostic centres at their district headquarter hospitals are ready.

Health outlay hiked in the Union Budget

The Union Government has proposed to enhance the allocation for the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) from Rs.8207 crore in 2006-07 to Rs.9947 crore in 2007-08. Presenting the Union Budget for 2007-08 in Lok Sabha on 28th February 2007, the Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram said that the major emphasis would be on mother and childcare and on prevention and treatment of communicable diseases like TB and malaria. Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH) systems were also being mainstreamed into the health delivery system at all levels. Polio eradication programme has been integrated with NRHM and Rs.1290 crore has been allocated to this segment, with the aim of eradicating the menace of polio from India.

Chidambaram further stated that the government has brought HIV/AIDS out of the closet and promised bold, determined initiatives to achieve zero-level growth of the disease.The epidemic will be deemed ‘stabilised’ if the prence rate is less than one per cent of the population. The Finance Minister announced that the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP)-III, starting in 2007-08, would target the high-risk groups in all the states. Furthermore, Chidambaram proposed to step up the provision for the AIDS Control Programme to Rs.969 crore, for the fiscal year 2007-08. Overall, the finance minis-ter enhanced the expenditure on health and family welfare by 21.9 percent as compared to that of the current fiscal.

Now the challenge lies in sprucing up this healthy element in the Union Budget, through innovative applications of ICT in healthcare, which in turn will facilitate the percolation of these budget measures and proposals to the underprivileged and underserved sections of the Indian society, who do not have access to even basic healthcare.

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