The Union Ministry of Ayush and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will soon launch a collaborative project ‘Telemedicine in Ayush (Tele-Ayush) Project’ for taking the excellent healthcare facilities to the people living in the poorest and remotest areas of the country, where conventional methods of transport and help usually fail to work.
This joint effort will make it possible for doctors and healthcare professionals to save many lives in areas where basic life sustenance is a daily problem. Precious lives are needlessly lost just because there was no doctor at hand when the situation required. The Tele-Ayush project aims at providing feasible healthcare services to the neediest beneficiaries in the country, making the best use of satellite technology, which will be provided by ISRO.
The Ayush Ministry’s initiative in this regard is significant as healthcare in India has always been a major issue to tackle, chiefly due to the sheer scale of the numbers. India’s mammoth population, coupled with the vast and varied terrain, which separates the rural and urban areas and the lack of basic, adequate facilities in rural and remote areas has made it a gargantuan task to provide quality and efficient healthcare to the people residing in such areas. While their urban brethren continue to enjoy the choicest medical care and attention, India’s poor and underprivileged do not have access to basic life necessities, let alone healthcare. Keeping this in mind, the Ministry of Ayush and ISRO have come together to launch this collaborative project.
Earlier, the Ministry had constituted a Working Group, under the chairmanship of Dr. R. K. Manchanda, DG, Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy, for the development and propagation of Tele-Ayush. The Working Group was asked to deliberate on specific points and submit a report. These points include gather the detailed requirements from the Ministry of Ayush; gather information on the technicalities of implementation; a detailed budgetary analysis for the entire project; ascertain resource requirement (human, hardware/software, infrastructure, etc.); a feasible time-line for development and deployment; and a thorough analysis and study of the entire project.
In its report submitted to the government recently, the Working Group recommended that the Ministry can utilize the existing infrastructure (dispensaries etc.) for providing healthcare services in remote and rural areas; Tele-Ayush can also utilise the ISRO’s existing telemedicine nodes located across country; CHCs and PHCs can be strengthened and developed by providing the services and expertise of Ayush doctors; these can also be used as specialized centres for providing exclusive healthcare services to people; Ayush doctors/paramedics can be further trained by CME programmes conducted through the TM network; they can act as consultants at the PHCs and CHCs as required and provide valuable help to the already practising doctors and healthcare personnel; smaller research units of the Councils, or Ayushgrams, can be implemented in rural/tribal areas which can function as nodes for the public outreach programmes with the provision and deployment of adequate manpower; and National/All India Institutes and Central/Regional Institutes of Research Councils of Ayush systems can also operate as nodes for specialized consultations.
On the role of the Ministry of Ayush, the Working Group recommended to Identify super specialist nodes (SS Nodes) & patient nodes for providing telemedicine consultation services by the Ministry; Preparation of TM consultations weekly schedule well in advance and to be sent to all concerned, like doctor end nodes, patient nodes, TM hub at ISTRAC Bengaluru and DECU/ISRO; Monitor and send monthly network utilisation report to DECU/ISRO; Arrange maintenance of civil, electrical and other supporting infrastructures at the user location; Arrange safe custody of items supplied and installed, identification of the custodian for each TM node and maintain the inventory which should be verified periodically; Arrange lodging complaint with local police in case of theft/loss of any item and to send one copy of FIR to DECU/ISRO; Enter into separate MoUs between themselves and the user agencies where TM nodes are to be installed for operations, safekeeping, maintenance payments after one year of phase-1 etc; Identifying local dedicated site coordinators at the telemedicine centres for enabling smooth setup of facilities; The selected centres to provide required civil infrastructure like room (10′ x20′), space for antenna, power, UPS, furniture, etc; and Providing manpower support for the smooth operation of the telemedicine nodes and identification of the doctors/medical staff for supporting teleconsultations, both at the patient nodes and selected super specialist nodes.