An eye-opener, literally
Tripura holds a population of almost 37 lakh, predominantly in rural and tribal areas. However, the state faces the challenge of availability of specialised doctors (eye specialists). With 75 per cent rural population, we have only 20 doctors out of which 10 will be retiring in 2016. We also have two medical colleges with limited capacity and sudden increase in the number of eye surgeons is not possible. Therefore, making use of appropriate technology, we opted for teleophthalmology six years ago. Initially, we started with teleophthalmology services in the blocks, as they had the advantage of the dual connectivity of the blocks â€” traditional and mobile towers, which were specially erected for the purpose of connectivity. The patients were being screened in the BDO office and the same data was transferred to the referral hospital â€“ IGM Hospital, the only hospital at the state level where ophthalmologists view the records and prescribe medicines online. The patients take the printout of the prescription and purchase the medicines from the chemist. Every year, almost 50,000-60,000 patients are benefitted. On an average, our expenditure is approximately Rs 2.5-2.7 crore per year. We are now starting off with teleradiology to become one among the few states where teleradiology is about to become functional.