Roshan, Cisco, the Government of Afghanistan, The Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi, the French Medical Institute for Children, Aga Khan Health Services and the Bamyan Provincial Hospital Team up to Expand Healthcare Access by Linking Afghan Hospitals to International Medical Institutions
KABUL and BAMYAN, Afghanistan, June 1 /PRNewswire/ – Roshan, the leading telecom operator in Afghanistan, today announced the expansion of its first-of-its-kind Telemedicine solution in Afghanistan beyond Kabul to include provincial hospitals. Bamyan Provincial Hospital will be the first provincial medical facility linked to the innovative Telemedicine project, which uses broadband technology, wireless video conferencing and digital image transfer, to provide hospitals in Afghanistan with real-time access to specialist healthcare diagnosis, treatment and training expertise from abroad. Roshan has teamed with Cisco, the Government of Afghanistan, The Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi (AKUH), French Medical Institute for Children (FMIC), Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS), Bamyan Provincial Hospital (BPH) and other technology suppliers to undertake the project. Launched in 2007, the project already links FMIC in Kabul, Afghanistan to AKUH in Karachi, Pakistan, enabling access to a broad array of radiology expertise provided by AKUH. The second phase links BPH to the FMIC, which is being developed as an Afghan center of medical excellence. To date, more than 340 patients have benefitted from Telemedicine and more than 231 Afghan medical personnel have participated in diagnostic and training opportunities facilitated by the technology.
Telemedicine links will be extended to other provincial hospitals and eventually to medical institutions in Europe and North America. The Telemedicine project developed in Afghanistan is also seen as a model for addressing healthcare delivery shortcomings in other developing countries where access to medical diagnosis, treatment and training is limited. “After the launch and initial success of Telemedicine in Kabul, we are delighted to begin extending Telemedicine links to provincial hospitals in Afghanistan, where the need for access to quality specialist diagnosis and training is even greater,” said Karim Khoja, Chief Executive Officer of Roshan. “Telemedicine further demonstrates the power of wireless technology to improve people’s lives and expand the healthcare resources available to the people of Afghanistan.”
Since 2002, the Aga Khan University has been working with the Government of Afghanistan and donor agencies to strengthen human resource capacity in nursing, medicine and teacher education in Afghanistan. “The Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi has been responsible for the management of FMIC that provides high quality health care to the children of Afghanistan. We are proud to work with partners such as Roshan and CISCO to expand telemedicine in Afghanistan that broadens access to high quality health care to those in isolated communities,” said Al-Karim Haji, Director General and Chief Financial Officer of AKU. The Bamyan region in Afghanistan has some of the highest levels of maternal and child mortality in Afghanistan. For every 22,500 births, there are 382 maternal deaths and 3,937 infant deaths. The Bamyan Provincial Hospital was originally established in 2001 and in 2004, the Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS) assumed management as part of its wider endeavor to improve the living conditions and quality of life for the people of Bamyan. The hospital has since grown from 30 beds to its present capacity of 74 beds. There are an estimated 514,698 people served by the hospital on an annual basis.
Dr. Semira Manaseki-Holland, Regional Chief Executive Officer, AKHS, Central Asia, said, “The extension of the Telemedicine solution to the Bamyan Provincial Hospital is a major step in advancing our healthcare capabilities and access to top-quality specialists. Already, almost 100 patients in our care have benefited from Telemedicine.” His Excellency Amirzai Sangin, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan added, “Our Government is striving to improve the quality of life of our people and providing quality health care is one of our top priorities. This innovative use of technology and telecommunications to enhance healthcare delivery will support our efforts to meet the nation’s other development challenges.” Telemedicine involves the use of broadband technology that provides real-time high speed access for the transfer of medical imaging, video, data and voice. Applications include the ability to send real-time X-ray, ultrasound and CAT Scans (Computerized Axial Tomography) for evaluation. The technology also enables e-learning and learning through video conferencing.
The initial service provided is teleradiology, the electronic transmission of radiological patient images. There are currently an average of 40 teleradiology cases evaluated monthly between FMIC and AKUH and ongoing training provided to medical professionals to build capacity. Telemedicine capabilities will gradually be expanded to other rural regions of Afghanistan, to include the use of smart-phone and PDAs, and to address different services and procedures including evaluation of tissue samples and the on-line performance of medical and surgical procedures. Roshan has spearheaded development of the Telemedicine project from initial conceptualization through implementation through its Corporate Social Responsibility arm and is part of its ongoing commitment to serving as a catalyst for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Over the next three to five years, Roshan will invest $1.5 million in the Telemedicine project. Roshan is part of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), which is one of nine Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) agencies that address a wide spectrum of development challenges. Regarding the Telemedicine project, Aly Mawji, Resident Representative for AKDN, said, “The inauguration of Telemedicine services between Bamyan and Kabul is an example of the exciting progress being made in Afghanistan, showing how new innovations are bringing tangible improvement to people’s lives. That this inauguration is happening at the same time as the opening of a new operating theatre block at the Bamyan Provincial Hospital and the beginning of the fourth session of the Bamyan community midwifery program bears testimony that progress is possible and is happening in Afghanistan in remote rural areas.”
Source: Earth Times