May 2007

NEWS REVIEW – INDIA UPDATE

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Fortis HealthWorld to improve the health of rural India

Fortis HealthWorld, the one stop healthcare retail chain in India, has announced its plans to reach rural India through its tie up with Hariyali Kisaan Bazaar, a unit of DCM Shriram Consolidated Ltd. in New Delhi. By setting up FHWL health stores in conjunction with Hariyali Kisaan Bazaar, Fortis HealthWorld seeks to empower rural India in general and the farming community in particular, by providing all encompassing health needs under one roof.

With the endeavour of reaching out to the remotest corner of rural India and providing the best of products and services for all health needs to the farmers and their family, Fortis HealthWorld will have a comprehensive array of key features at the stores, which include OPD facility (doctor’s consultation); telemedicine; routine pathology tests collection centre (SRL Ranbaxy); prescription, OTC, alternate medicines ( Ayurveda & Homeopathy) and also veterinary medicines; and a wide range of fast moving health good and support systems.

Ashish Kirpal Pandit, CEO, Fortis HealthWorld said, “This alliance with DSCL Hariyali Kisaan Bazaar is an integral part of our commitment of providing world class pharmacy and allied services to rural India. Quality services ranging from doctor consultation, well stocked pharmacy with genuine medicines, pathology tests and telemedicine will now all be available under one roof and within easy access to the rural population. We are sure that through this alliance we will be able to provide cutting-edge pharma products and services to all corners of the nation.” Fortis HealthWorld will leverage the already operational and successful 70 outlets of the Hariyali Kisaan Bazaars across India. The reach will be further strengthened with the next 200 outlets, in the next 15 months, that DCM Hariyali plans to set up. For continuous healthcare support and consultation, the farmers will also have the option of using the telemedicine facility at all these stores. An ailing farmer can now avail the expert advise of specialized healthcare experts and doctors from the Fortis Hospitals.

Rajesh Gupta, Business Head, Hariyali Kisaan Bazaar, added, “We are delighted to partner with Fortis HealthWorld in providing quality health services in rural India. Hariyali Kisaan Bazaar with its extensive reach in such areas is uniquely positioned to provide a platform for products and services for rural areas. We hope that this partnership would help our customers access to much needed health services.”

Britain showing interest in Indian healthcare

India’s healthcare sector is all set for a boom with British companies showing a growing enthusiasm for tie-ups with the healthcare firms in the country. The focal point of these tie-ups is going to be West Bengal and the IT firms in this region.

The forecasted boom in Kolkata’s healthcare sector�with people from Bangladesh and other neighboring countries seeking treatment here�tie-ups with the IT firms for medical software, opportunities for the SEZs, and low salaried, highly skilled manpower are some of the major attractions drawing British firms towards India. However Britain, in return, is willing to contribute in advanced research in medicine and cutting-edge technology, which comprises of telemedicine and surgical expertise.According to Kevin McCole, British Deputy High Commission, Kolkata, NHS (National Health Service) of Britain was also eager to invest in PPP ventures with India’s healthcare system.

Telemedicine bridging the medical divide

It seems India’s digital revolution is slowly shedding of its elitist tag, and reaching the remote and the underserved. At least a beginning has been made in this regard.. Recently a telemedicine centre in Bongaigaon, lower Assam was opened. This will serve as a boon for thousands of patients of that remote area, who are not privileged to have the best of medical care at their doorsteps. Lower Assam, which primarily comprises districts of Nalbari, Barpeta and Bongaigaon, is one of the neglected areas of this country and does have an acute paucity of good hospitals. Thus for advanced treatment, here the patients have no option but to travel all the way down to the state capital. Now this telemedicine centre will help them get world class care while staying in lower Assam.

The telemedicine centre was inaugurated at Bongaigaon Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (BRPL) Hospital, Dhaligaon. The Bongaigaon Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd had teamed up with Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation(ATNF) to launch this centre. Here it deserves a mention that ATNF has been a pioneer of sorts as far as fostering the progress of telemedicine in India through private initiatives are concerned.

A tele-relief for remote West Bengal and Tripura proposed

The government is sitting up and taking notice of the tremendous potential of telemedicine in fostering healthcare in India. Recently the union government has sanctioned a whooping sum of Rs. 30 crores for the state governments of West Bengal and Tripura, for creating telemedicine zones in these two states. This ambitious project endeavours to connect remote hospitals of these two states to the state-of-the-art hospitals located in the cities.

Till date many district and sub-division hospitals in Coochbehar, Baharampur Purulia,Habra, Arambagh,Raiganj have been connected to the top-of-the line city hospitals like School of Tropical Medicine, Nil Ratan Sarkar Hospital(in Kolkata), Burdwan Medical College(in Burdwan) and Calcutta Medical College(Kolkata). The linkages also include video conferencing, through which remote doctors can administer proper diagnosis to the patients.The enhancement of telemedicine links in these two states will greatly help the people living in the remote areas of West Bengal and Tripura to avail cost-effective specialized treatment from state-of-the art hospitals in cities.

Though presently Microsoft- based software is being used, in future there are plans to connect the entire network through Linux-based or open source software (OSS).

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