Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Telemedicine in Afghanistan

Roshan the leading telecom operator in Afghanistan announced that telemedicine is expanding beyond Kabul to include provincial hospitals. Bamyan Provincial Hospital (BPH) will be the first provincial medical facility linked to the telemedicine project to use broadband technology, wireless video conferencing, and digital imaging transfer.

Roshan has teamed with Cisco, the Afghanistan government, Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi (AKUH), French Medical Institute for Children (FMIC), Aga Khan Health Services, and other technology suppliers.

The Bamyan region in Afghanistan has some of the highest levels of maternal and child mortality in Afghanistan. For every 22,000 births, there are 382 maternal deaths and 3,937 infant deaths. The hospital established in 2001 has grown from 30 beds to the present capacity of 74 beds. An estimated 514,698 people are served by the hospital on an annual basis.

The project already links FMIC in Kabul to AKUH in Karachi Pakistan and now the second phase links BPH to FMIC. Today more than 340 patients have benefitted from medicine and more than 231 Afghan medical personnel have participated in diagnostic and training opportunities.

Plans are for telemedicine links to be extended to other provincial hospitals and eventually to medical institutions in Europe and North America. The initial service provided teleleradiology and now an average of 40 teleradiology cases are evaluated monthly between FMIC and AKUH. Eventually, telemedicine capabilities will be expanded to other rural regions of Afghanistan and will include the use of smart-phones and PDAs. Over the next three to five years, Roshan is planning to invest $1.5 million in the telemedicine project.