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Mobile rural tele-psychiatry initiative launched

Staff Reporter
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Includes mobile dispensary and video conferencing facility

Governor Surjit Singh Barnala flags off the mobile rural tele-psychiatry bus in Chennai on Wednesday. — Photo: R. Ravindran
Governor Surjit Singh Barnala flags off the mobile rural tele-psychiatry bus in Chennai on Wednesday. — Photo: R. Ravindran

A mobile rural tele-psychiatry initiative was launched by the Governor Surjit Singh Barnala here on Wednesday.

As part of the initiative, backed by the Schizophrenia Research Foundation (SCARF), a psychiatry unit has been created in a bus equipped with a mobile dispensary and video conferencing facility to cater to people living in remote villages.

R. Thara, director of SCARF, said “There are only 4,000 psychiatrists in India, 70 per cent of whom are in urban areas, leaving the vast majority without access to mental health facilities. Telemedicine offers a unique way to address this issue.”

She said that the programme would initially cover four taluks in Pudukkottai district. Through the tele-psychiatry unit, free consultation would be offered via a central hub in Chennai and medicines would also be given free of cost.

Many of the mentally ill in rural areas are not able to access medical facilities because it is difficult for the family members to travel long distances along with a patient. “We are hoping that if we provide a proximal service, chances of them accessing it are much more,” Ms.Thara added. R.Seshasayee, Managing Director of Ashok Leyland, which sponsored the bus, participated.

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