Despite the great strides taken in the field of affordable medicine and healthcare, a large section of the country’s population lacks access to health services. It has been observed that availability of quality health infrastructure confines to semi-urban and urban-scapes, isolating remote regions. In such a scenario, tele-medicine has given people of Jakhli the power to connect and interact with health experts and specialists beyond their village.
A tribal village situated in Betul district of Madhya Pradesh, Jakhli lacks even the most basic facility of a primary health centre (PHC). The closest hospital is 10 kilometers away from the village. CIRC Jakhli, a digitally equipped space, therefore, proved to be an ideal place for conducting tele-medicine consultations.
From its very inception, CIRC Jakhli has been dedicated towards bridging the digital divide in the village. Now, the centre has taken another step forward by synergising the available digital infrastructure with healthcare services.
Regional Coordinator Masroor, along with personnel from local partner organisation Pradan, consulted doctors from missionary hospital and sought their support in providing people of Jakhli with online medical consultations. The doctors readily welcomed and appreciated their initiative and were more than eager to offer their virtual support to the villagers.
Lack of accessible health infrastructure is not the only problem faced by the people of Jakhli. Due to conservative mind-set, women in general prefer to stay discreet about addressing their health issues rather than meeting with a health expert, often leaving their ailments unattended. Hence, the tele-medicine initiative gives allows women to benefit from quality healthcare without feeling uncomfortable as the centre makes special efforts to ensure privacy of patients by assigning a separate room during each tele-medicine consultation.
Recently, entrepreneur Sangeeta Vishwakarma, who has been actively conducting mobilisation drives within the village, took up the responsibility of connecting with the women and encouraging them to avail the tele-medicine service being offered at the CIRC. So far, two remote consultations have been successfully conducted in which around 20 women received advice from medical experts at the district level. Women from all age groups, including adolescents, interacted with doctors and health experts through video conferencing. From menstrual hygiene to safe childbirth, gynaecologists offered women medical guidance so that the latter can embrace healthy practices in their day-to-day lives.
The original idea behind conducting these tele-medicine consultations was to test the feasibility of the initiative in a remote and tribal village like Jakhli. The remarkable response gathered through the initiative has motivated the regional staff of the CIRC to take it to neighbouring villages as well. Besides Jakhli, CIRCs located in nine other tribal villages of Betul and Hoshangabad districts have also been earmarked as digital platforms that would offer tele-medicine facilities in the coming future.
DEF’s tryst with tele-medicine
DEF first launched the tele-medicine services in Chanderi, Madhya Pradesh, in 2010. The public health centre in the heritage town of Chanderi was connected with the Ashoknagar District Hospital to make quality healthcare available to the people in the handloom cluster. Under this programme, regular online health camps are organised for the villagers and village-level doctors are connected with senior doctors in the district to provide accurate and timely consultation to the patients. A total of 412 villagers are registered with Chanderi’s tele-medicine facility
Weekly Health Camp
Moving to offline health services, CIRC Tain in Nuh district of Mewat in Haryana has been rigorously conducting health camps at the centre and neighbouring areas. For this purpose, the centre staff has established linkages with government hospitals, health departments and medical colleges. Doctors and nurses volunteer at the health camp and conduct OPD consultations and even run tests for diseases like malaria and dengue. Twelve health camps have been organised so far through which more than a 1,000 people have benefitted.