Roshan has teamed with Cisco, Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), French Medical Institute for Children (FMIC) and other technology suppliers to launch the project. The first phase of the project has already linked FMIC in Kabul, Afghanistan to AKUH in Karachi Pakistan, enabling access to a broad array of radiology expertise provided by AKUH. Subsequent phases will link major Afghan regional hospitals to the FMIC, which is being developed as an Afghan center of medical excellence. Eventually, the links can be extended to medical institutions in Europe and North America. The Telemedicine project developed in Afghanistan is also seen as a model for addressing healthcare delivery shortcomings in other developing countries where access to medical diagnosis, treatment and training is limited.
"Access to healthcare, especially specialist diagnosis and treatment, remains a critical problem in Afghanistan," said Karim Khoja, CEO of Roshan. "Telemedicine technology provides a solution that has the potential to dramatically expand access to quality medical care for Afghans whose only option previously was to seek specialist diagnosis or treatment overseas. Telemedicine not only immediately enhances access to medical diagnosis and treatment, but it also helps to build and sustain the nation's healthcare capacity through sharing of expertise. Patients will now benefit from the international knowledge without the need to transport specialists to the country."
"Our Government is striving to improve the quality of life of our people and providing quality healthcare is one of our top priorities. Telemedicine is the perfect marriage between the speed, convenience and cost-effectiveness of wireless and broadband technology. This innovative use of technology and telecommunications to enhance healthcare delivery will help underpin our efforts to meet the nation's other development challenges," said Amirzai Sangin, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
"At Cisco we believe that quality healthcare is one of our world's most vital needs. That is why we have taken a leadership position to develop technologies, such as our medical grade network that enables collaboration and sharing of health information over a secure and intelligent infrastructure. We are proud to be a part of this collaborative effort to deliver a telemedicine solution to Afghanistan," said Sam Alkharrat, Cisco managing director, Gulf & Pakistan. Cisco, together with other telecommunications suppliers, is providing digital image transfer systems and video consultation for the Telemedicine project.
Telemedicine involves the use of broadband technology that provides real- time high speed access for the transfer of medical imaging, video, data and voice. Applications include the ability to send real-time X-ray, ultrasound and CAT Scans (Computerized Axial Tomography) for evaluation. The technology also enables e-learning and training through video consultation.
The initial service provided will be teleradiology, the electronic transmission of radiological patient images. There will be an average of 60 to 80 transmissions and 10 to 15 teleconferences between hospitals per month, with the numbers increasing over time. Telemedicine capabilities will gradually be expanded to address different services and procedures including evaluation of tissue samples and the on-line performance of medical and surgical procedures.
"This project not only represents cooperation between the companies and institutions involved, but is also an important collaborative effort between Afghanistan and Pakistan to address regional healthcare needs," said Firoz Rasul, president of Aga Khan University. "Telemedicine will dramatically expand the healthcare diagnostic and education of health professionals, who will be accessible to the people of Afghanistan and will allow hospitals across the nation to leverage AKUH's world-class medical expertise."
"FMIC is on the front lines of healthcare delivery in Afghanistan, serving per month an average of 4,000 patients in the out patients department, 3,000 patients in radiology and 14,000 lab tests. Telemedicine is already allowing us to expand the resources at our disposal and draw on the expertise of AKUH for specialist consultation, second opinions and treatment input, resulting in speedier diagnosis and treatment and better outcomes for patients," said Kate Rowlands, general director, FMIC. "As the project expands to Afghanistan's regional hospitals, patients across the nation, regardless of their socio- economic status, will benefit from the combined expertise and resources of FMIC and AKUH."
Roshan has spearheaded development of the Telemedicine project from initial conceptualization through implementation as part of its ongoing commitment to serving as a catalyst for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.