Auckland, New Zealand 25 September 2013
Medtech Global’s telemedicine technology is helping under privileged people living in third world conditions in north east of Delhi, India to get their children and families medical help.
The healthcare technology company’s VitelMed equipment is being used in an aid project being funded by the New Zealand Government and the New Zealand arm of the global charity Tear Fund and backed by Indian banks.
Vino Ramayah, executive chairman of Medtech, says children and their families in these areas cannot afford to go to the few doctors available. Hospitals get over crowded with people seeking treatment for a wide variety of conditions, including things like infections from cuts from sifting through rubbish looking for recyclable materials, or skin conditions as a result of unsanitary conditions.
“With Delhi in traffic grid-lock, it is extremely time consuming for doctors from other parts to get to the area,” he says. “By using telemedicine technology and people trained to work with doctors remotely, a lot of people can be seen for less urgent conditions and the hospitals can deal with more serious cases.”
VitelMed’s remote system combines real-time video, clinical data collection using equipment such as e-stethoscopes, blood pressure monitors, blood glucose monitors and pulse oximeters and a two-way radio system in a small portable box to enable remote monitoring of patients. The doctor, who may be located some kilometres away, is able to direct the medical assistant working with the patient to provide appropriate treatment.
Similar VitelMed boxes as those being used in Delhi are also being used in trials in New Zealand and at the same time the technology is being developed for wider use.
Mr Ramayah says Medtech staff members in India are working to train people to use the VitelMed equipment in the four-year programme designed to tackle the chronic lack of medical, water and sanitary infrastructure available to families in the Seelampur and Trilokpuri slums.
Medtech and Tear Fund NZ are partnering with the Asha Community Health and Development Society, which has been involved in slum improvement programmes in Delhi for 25 years. Asha’s founder and director Dr Kiran Martin is visiting New Zealand this week.
Medtech has an established reputation in India for its telemedicine technology. It has been part of a pilot project in the remote village of Chunampet located close to Pondicherry in the state of Tamilnadu, working with the National Agro Foundation (NAF), a public charitable trust. The project is a 12-month trial for the use of telemedicine in rural health care centres
Mr Ramayah says only 25 per cent of India’s specialist physicians reside in semi-urban areas and three per cent live in rural areas. This means 66 per cent of rural Indians do not have access to critical medicine.
“We believe VitelMed can bridge the gap between doctors and these patients through rural health centres that can be manned by semi-skilled people and these centres can be connected to some of the best doctors/hospitals in the cities,” he says.