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Afghan telemedicine project expedites patient diagnosis

30 July 2009

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A tele-radiology machine in a Bamyan hospital is attracting patients as remote diagnosis with experts in Kabul save money and travel. The project is also helping health workers receive training and guidance over tele-sessions.

Bamyan: A hospital in Bamyan Province, central Afghanistan, has set up a tele-medicine facility, linking it to the French Medical Institute for Children (FMIC) in Kabul, the capital, for tele-radiology, tele-conferencing and other medical services.

The machine was launched in the Bamyan hospital by the Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS) and Roshan Telecom, also an Aga Khan enterprise.

“The tele-radiology allows us to electronically send a digital scan of an X-ray to an expert in FMIC in Kabul and receive the interpretation and expertise quickly, instead of sending the patient with his/her film to Kabul,” Mattew Rodieck, Bamyan hospital manager, told IRIN.

“Instead of sending staff for a training session in Kabul we electronically link the trainees in Bamyan with the trainers in Kabul”

In addition, through live tele-conference and tele-consultation sessions, health workers from Bamyan hospital are involved in training and exchange of information with experts in Kabul for diagnostic purposes.

The machine, costing US$100,000, has helped the hospital and patients save money and time because they are not required to travel to Kabul – about 230km away – for diagnosis and training.

“Instead of sending staff for a two-hour training session in Kabul we electronically link the trainees in Bamyan with the trainers in Kabul,” said Rodieck.

Up to 20 scans were exchanged between the FMIC in Kabul and the Bamyan hospital in June, the first month of the project.

The first tele-medicine project was launched in 2007 linking FMIC in Kabul to the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi, Pakistan.

So far, more than 340 patients have benefited from the tele-medicine and some 231 Afghan medical personnel have participated in diagnostic and training opportunities facilitated by the new technology, according to AKHS.

Source : IRIN

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