In 2001, COMSATS’ Tele-health programme began with launching of a pilot scale project that connected the Tele-health Resource Centre in Islamabad to a Tele-clinic setup in Gujar Khan – an isolated township near Islamabad. Being a new concept, there were hardly any models to follow in Tele-health. COMSATS’ project, however, employed indigenous resources with a self-learning initiative to provide specialists’ services and distance learning in computer basics. The project elicited encouraging response from the local population and paved the way for extending the programme for the benefit of a larger population. The scope and coverage of the programme were accordingly extended to 20 Tele-health Clinics presently functioning in different remote districts of the country; duly linked to the COMSATS Resource Centre in Islamabad.
What's Included 2004
In 2004, the pilot phase was later refined and the technical aspects were upgraded to launch a project entitled “ICTs for Rural Development in Mountainous and Remote Northern Areas of Pakistan”, in collaboration with the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and an NGO, Baltistan Health and Education Foundation(BHEF). The Objective of the project was to provide the internet to the local population, utilizing which, provide clinical and educational services thus reducing the travel expenses for the residents of the Northern Areas of Pakistan, specifically Skardu who were detained due to compromised connectivity, financial issues and travel hardships in the mountainous terrain. The town had, however, basic healthcare facilities, but with very few specialists’ thus compelling people to go to distant cities for specialized care. COMSATS Telehealth project enabled the locals to get specialist care in fields of dermatology, gastroenterology and cardiology. Key features of the project included the first-ever ISP set up in the area, immense popularity the Teledermatology and use of advanced equipment, specifically designed for video-conference and Telehealth medical peripherals.
Telehealth in Baluchistan
Trusted & Experienced
CTH takes pride in the fact that it has built partnerships and worked with the organizations in both the private and the Government sectors. Partnership with an NGO, namely Human Development Foundation (HDF), resulted in the establishment of first-ever Telehealth setup in Balochistan province (largest yet remotest province in Pakistan) in 2011 at Zhob. The patients were provided Teleconsulations through low-cost Telehealth equipment by sharing and utilizing both COMSATS’ and HDF’s own resources. COMSATS’ delivered the technical support including the hardware, software and Internet whereas HDF provided human resource, space and other facilities at Zhob clinic.
Telehealth in Baluchistan
A major breakthrough was achieved in Telehealth service through one of the flagship projects, i.e. COMSATS Internet Services (CIS), in the form of a project funded through the Government of Pakistan Development funds in 2013. This project focused on scaling up the services and taking up primary care through Telehealth in addition to specialist services. Therefore 13 Telehealth clinics were established in Basic health units (BHUs) in areas where no female doctors were available and people have to rely only on female paramedics for basic health care. With the establishment of CTH Teleclinics, patients received OPD consultations, especially antenatal check-ups and ultrasounds by physicians at the COMSATS Tele-health Resource centre in Islamabad.
The experience gained from the primary health care through Telehealth facilitated replication of the model in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to meet the shortage of doctors and conduct outpatient check-ups in rural areas of the province. Initially, three Telehealth clinics were established at BHUs in selected places of KPK with support from KPK IT Board in 2017-18.