International Telecommunication Union   ITU
 
 
Site Map Contact us Print Version
 Wednesday, November 02, 2011
Pakistan is experimenting with a relatively new model of healthcare delivery: telemedicine. For distance-based medical services to be successful, however, projects must grapple with challenges like inadequate infrastructure and patient distrust of the concept.

In the 10 months since the organization TeleSehat opened a second pilot telemedicine center in the Pakistani city of Gujar Khan, more than 3,000 patients have been treated. Such numbers point to the great potential of telemedicine to bridge the healthcare divide in Pakistan.

Due to an insufficient healthcare budget, a shortage of good doctors, and poor, ill-equipped public hospitals, Pakistan is unable to provide all its citizens with even basic healthcare services. Given the sheer lack of healthcare facilities in remote villages, villagers suffering with serious illnesses and health emergencies often have no other option but to travel extensive distances into the main cities. As the cost of traveling is prohibitive for many who survive on meager incomes, these villagers either rack up great debts or forego medical attention entirely.

Closing the healthcare gap between those who live near medical facilities and those who do not was the impetus behind TeleSehat (‘Sehat’ is Urdu for ‘Health’). Asad Karim (also the CEO of a local technology firm, Comcept) and Syed Mahmood Hussain launched TeleSehat in the summer of 2008. They founded the organization to establish telemedicine centers to deliver healthcare to Pakistanis living in inaccessible locations.

Telemedicine is not a completely new concept to Pakistan, and certain projects have been quite noteworthy. Launched in 2001, the Tele-Health Programme, for instance, was the country’s first telemedicine initiative. Jaroka Tele-healthcare, Sehat First and TeleDoctor, all similar local telemedicine initiatives, soon followed.

But the question remains: Can telemedicine prove successful in a country like Pakistan?
“Telemedicine is the only hope for countries like Pakistan”, insists TeleSehat’s head of business development, Nabeel Ahmad Malik. “However, this can only prove successful if the service delivery model is designed in a way that it suits all the stakeholders, which includes hospitals, doctors, TeleSehat itself, the local population and the respective government”.

(Source: AudienceScapes)
Further details