Special Correspondent

First of the 11 Centrally-funded projects

Meant to provide quality care to girijans and rural patients

BSNL connectivity through a fibre optic cable

VISAKHAPATNAM: The Dr. Rednam Suryaprakasa Rao Regional Eye Hospital here has equipped itself with a tele-ophthalmology unit to provide quality medical care to girijans and rural patients. This is first of the 11 Central Government-funded projects.

“This is for the first time that such a facility is being provided at a Government institutions in the country,” Superintendent of REH and Chief Administrator of the unit M. Mohan Rao said at a press conference here on Thursday. The facility would be commissioned on Saturday. The BSNL is providing the connectivity through a fibre optic cable.

The project, named as Government Regional Eye Hospital Visakhapatnam Tele-ophthalmology Network, has REH here as the Main Hub which is connected to the Vision Centres at the Government Hospital, Elamanchili, in the rural area and the Community Health Centre, Paderu, for the benefit of Girijan population.

The Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, which is having 28 tele-ophthalmology units, is associated with the project as its module is adopted here along with technical support.

Patients at the Vision Centres would be checked by the paramedical ophthalmology officers and every detail could be seen live on a television screen at the Main Hub at the REH. The doctors of REH would examine the patient this way. The Vision Centres could also take pictures of the retina of a patient if necessary and transmit them to the Main Hub. Patients needing surgery would be sent here.

The project has main objectives like providing primary eye care services; sub-speciality care like detection of glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy etc., eye health education and the School Service Programme to detect refractive errors in children. REH has been selected as the centre as it has the latest and modern eye care equipment along with experienced doctors and paramedical staff.

Project cost

The project cost is Rs. 49.35 lakhs but the REH needed support of philanthropists to meet the recurring cost of Rs.3.76 lakhs, Dr. Mohan Rao said.

General Manager of the Visakhapatnam Telecom District of BSNL P. Nagaraju said the facility would be extended to other centres. The BSNL, with its wide network was the only option for providing tele-ophthalmology facility to the remote areas and has also provided a 40 per cent discount in its charges.

The tele-ophthalmology facility is available from 9.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m., at the Elamanchili hospital on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and at the CHC, Paderu, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The frequency would be increased if the number of patients was more, Dr. Mohan Rao said.

REH would also have similar connectivity to the Sankar Netralaya in Chennai in three to four months.

Professors of Ophthalmology at REH V. Suryanarayana and P. Krishna Prasad were also present.