Accessing the potential of specialist doctors, the method of telemedicine has to be expanded to the rural areas in order to bridge the urban-rural divide in medicare, according to Dr K Kasturirangan, Member (Science), Planning Commission and former chairman of the ISRO.
This method can be applied in the continuing medical education of the rural doctors and in introducing miniaturized bioinstrumentation to monitor patients and later transfer it to the specialists, he said.
While delivering the convocation address at Sri Ramachandra University in Chennai, he said there is shortage of specialist doctors and hospital beds in the country. While there is an urgent need to rapidly implement Vision 2015 of the Medical Council of India to enable every Indian medical graduate to pursue post-graduate education to multiply the availability of specialists, telemedicine could connect these specialists available mostly in urban centres with rural doctors, he added.
According to him ISRO launched telemedicine programme that has now been enhanced to multi-point systems and has a network of 400 centres across the country. The scope of telemedicine can transform the future with miniaturized bioinstrumentation that can monitor a patient’s biological parameters to a finer level and transmit relevant data to specialists. This can provide sophisticated treatment by specialists even to patients in remote areas. He lauded Sri Ramachandra University for establishing the state of the art telemedicine network connecting India and Africa.
Turning to space medicine Dr Kasturirangan said micro-gravity condition of astronauts affects body mass and causes bone loss. To study this and cure the related problems, specialized medical courses are required. Referring to space technology as a source of innovative ideas for medical research, he said NASA Bio-capsule made of inert subcutaneous implant that is designed to diagnose a medical problem and administer treatment could revolutionise cancer treatment targeting cancer cells and avoid side effects. He said space centres and medical institutions should engage in joint medical research.
The former ISRO head said in the next few decades medical sciences are expected to witness several breakthroughs like fabrication of organs through tissue construction and development of cells acceptable to immune systems.