Now patients in a remote corner of Haryana or Rajasthan will be able to consult a medical specialist sitting at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (SGRH) here through satellite connectivity, thanks to the telemedicine centres inaugurated in both the states Sunday.
A public-private partnership (PPP) between the government and SGRH, the telemedicine technology initiative has been started in two rural areas -in Gohana in Haryana and in Kaithun in Rajasthan.
Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal inaugurated the telemedicine centres from SRGH through video conferencing.
B.K. Rao, chairman of the board of management SRGH, said the technology would be a boon to rural medical facilities through the participation of highly specialised consultants.
"This realisation made SGRH enter into a PPP project with the government to open medical kiosks and telemedicine centres at three rural locations. Besides the ones in Gohana and Kaithun, the third one at Dasmal, Himachal Pradesh, will shortly become operational," Rao said.
The government is investing Rs.1 million on each of the centres.
Sibal said that it is for the first time the government is taking such an initiative.
"It is for the first time any government has taken this kind of initiative. Within one or two years the government will open 15 more such centres. When we came upon this idea SGRH was the first hospital to come forward to agree on this project," Sibal said.
"In today's time we should change the way we think. Patients should not have the need to reach the hospital. Instead, hospitals should reach out to the patient. I feel India today needs a dedicated health care satellite. I am glad to know that this is part of the 11th Plan (2007-12).
"There are 17,000 hospitals in India. All should be connected by telemedicine by this PPP partnership. Let us prove to the world that private sector hospitals are more committed than state sector in providing relief to rural people. I am willing to invest any amount needed in hardware for the unique partnership," Sibal added.
Rao said the hospital is going to start tele-ophthalmology vans and mammography vans which will be connected through satellite courtesy the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
"The vans will be stationed in different states and go to villages every day, examining people for eye problems and cancer among women," he said.
During the inauguration of the telemedicine centre at Gohana, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, chief Minister of Haryana, and Kartari Devi, Haryana health minister, were present while Digamber Singh, health minister of Rajasthan, and Bhawani Singh Rajawat, parliament secretary, were present at the centre in Kaithun.