Staff Reporter

Memorandum of Understanding signed for its implementation in the State

BHUBANESWAR: Orissa is all set to become the first State in India to have all district headquarter hospitals linked with telemedicine network which is aimed at increasing accessibility of people residing in far away places to quality health services.

The State Health and Family Welfare Department here on Friday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Centre for Development and Advanced Computing (C-DAC) to implement the third phase of telemedicine by connecting remaining 22 district headquarter hospitals.

The third phase of telemedicine project will be implemented within a period of 30 months from Friday and total cost of the project will be Rs. 5.08 crores. After that C-DAC will hand over the project to Orissa government for maintenance and sustainability.

Besides, a State-level central telemedicine resource centre is coming up on the premises of SCB Medical College and Hospital, Cuttack, to promote telemedicine application in the State, to monitor the utilisation activities of State-wide telemedicine network, to look after maintenance of network, to house the main server for storage of teaching material and clinical data in digital format and to provide a platform for undertaking studies.

Pioneer State

After signing of contract, director of HPC, C-DAC, P. K. Sinha said, “Orissa has been a pioneer State to implement telemedicine in the country. It will be the first State to have all its districts linked with this digital network.”

Speaking on the occasion, State Health and Family Welfare Minister Prasanna Acharya said it was expected that telemedicine facilities would help the poor patients to reduce their out of pocket expenditure and increase their accessibility to quality health services including emergency. The district headquarters, which would be included in the phase-III expansion, include Balasore, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Keonjhar, Malkanagiri, Nabrangpur, Nayagarh and Kandhamal.

Telemedicine activities were initiated in Orissa in 2001 with the support of the Union government and Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow (SGPGIMS). The phase-I telemedicine network was established in 2003 that connected all the three government medical colleges of Orissa to SGPGIMS through satellite-based VSAT connectivity. Indian Space Research Organisation had then provided hardware and software along with bandwidth free of charges.

In 2007, the network expanded further to include district headquarter hospitals of Koraput, Bhwanipatna, Baripada, Rayagada, Sundargarh and Capital Hospital, Bhubaneswar as phase II implementation.

“The new medical technology has benefited 2306 patients suffering from major illness through tele-consultation and tele follow-up services offered by SGPGIMS, AIIMS, New Delhi, to medical college hospitals across the State. Similarly, 269 patients with complicated health problems have been benefited by availing super-specialist,” claimed B. N. Mohanty, chief nodal officer of Orissa Telemedicine Network. Among others, State health Secretary Anu Garg and Director of National Rural Health Mission, Orissa, Pramod Kumar Meherda were present on the occasion.