K-P govt abandons virtual healthcare facility

Published: August 15, 2019
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K-P govt abandons virtual healthcare facilities. 
PHOTO: FILE

K-P govt abandons virtual healthcare facilities. PHOTO: FILE

PESHAWAR: Nearly two years after it was first launched, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government has abandoned the province’s first online healthcare facility.

Launched by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government in 2017, the E-Ilaj facility or virtual treatment was expected to dispense healthcare services to residents of far-flung areas in the province.

According to the initial plan, doctors, medical staff and patients were to be connected through these centres.

The pilot project, a collaboration between the K-P Health Department and the K-P Information Technology Board (K-PITB), was established to reduce the burden on tertiary care hospitals. However, in less than 24 months, it seems the provincial government may have lost interest in its flagship healthcare project.

“This is a perfect healthcare solution for providing medical assistance to the underprivileged and those who cannot access medical facilities. Unfortunately, the government is not interested in maintaining this facility,” a senior K-PITB said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The health department promised that they would take over the units and extend the facilities to the masses. But they still haven’t taken control of the E-Ilaj facilities,” he added.

A total of five E-Ilaj facilities were expected to be established by the KPITB and handed over to the health department, according to officials familiar with the development. However, due to financial limitations, the board was only able to create three units.

“We had several meetings with the provincial health department where they expressed willingness to take control of the facilities. However, despite repeated reminders, the health department never took control of the outlets,” the K-PITB official added.

Through these medical units, patients were expected to receive virtual medical assistance for cardiac problems, mother and child health, skin, and ENT besides other issues on the spot.

To receive treatment, patients were required to visit the virtual health outlet, which was linked to a control room through high-speed internet. Specialist doctors would examine the patients remotely and prescribe treatment.

Well trained staff employed at each E-Ilaj unit helped connect patients with doctors in the provincial capital. The primary outlet in Mansehra was expected to serve a population of about 27,000.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2019.

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