Madhusudan Guragain/RepublicaPatients hold video consultations with a team of specialist doctors from Kathmandu Model Hospital at a health post in Mandan Deupur Municipality, Kavrepalanchowk in this recent picture.
KAVRE, August 28: For the first time in the district and arguably in the country, telemedicine service has been started here in Kavre. A health post in Mandan Deupur Municipality – 11 has come up with this service, which is expected to benefit patients of the entire region.
Initiatives for the launching the telemedicine service were launched jointly by 2007 Magsaysay Award winner, Mahabir Pun, Kathmandu Model Hospital, Nepal Research and Education Network (NREN) and the Mandan Deupur Municipality.
For now, the health post is digitally connected to Kathmandu Model Hospital only. It plans to build partnerships with other health facilities too, municipality officials said.
Kathmandu Hospital's senior surgeon Dr Udaya Koirala, skin specialist Dr Super KC and physician Dr Bigyan Acharya were available for the online service on Monday. Over a dozen of patients had sought their help and received instant suggestions.
"I was suffering from leg pain for a long time now. I showed it to them online, and they diagnosed my disease on the spot," said Sabitri Neupane, a local of Jaisithok – 3. "They have suggested me to visit the Dhulikhel hospital for treatment. Or even them if it is convenient for me," she added.Asmita Chaulagain, in charge of the health post, claimed that the service has been like a boon for patients in the remote zone. Through the digital service, they can not only recount their stories to doctors but also get valuable suggestions. "Even follow-ups can be so easy. It saves a lot of time and money. The doctors advise patients to visit a health facility only if they consider the ailment to be severe," she stated.On Monday, the patients included were of all age groups and from different walks of life.
Along with the patients, health workers at the health post also received suggestions from the specialist doctors. They said that they were given handy tips by the doctors provided.
"It was a great experience for us too. Health workers received valuable tips from senior doctors. Such an opportunity would have never come our way if there was no digital service," Chaulagain said.
Initiatives for the launching the telemedicine service were launched jointly by 2007 Magsaysay Award winner, Mahabir Pun, Kathmandu Model Hospital, Nepal Research and Education Network (NREN) and the municipality office. While Pun provided the equipment necessary for starting the video conference, NREN has taken care of the technical aspects.
"Even though our area has been upgraded to the municipality, it does not even have the facility of a VDC. Most of the places are not even connected to the road network," said Atmaram Parajuli. "This video medical check-up service is of very high value to us," he added.
Meanwhile, Dr Koirala expressed happiness over the development. Tele conference works effectively for patients, he stated.
"It is a great matter of pleasure for us too. Patients living in remote villages are getting our service, what could be more satisfactory?" he said. "When patients get experts' suggestion on time, it makes a massive difference for them.
According to Dr Koirala, except in emergency cases, patients are not referred to big hospitals. They can go for medical consultation whenever they are able to.
"When a patient knows what has happened to them and how much time they have for seeking treatment, they can plan accordingly. We listen to the patients carefully, watch their wounds or analyze symptoms, and provide appropriate advice," he explained.
High-quality camera and other tools have been installed at the health post with the support of Pun.
According to Parajuli, health workers in the health post have felt the change too. They have been able to improve their skills because of the consultation with doctors.
Meanwhile, Dipak Ghimire, Health Division Chief at the municipality stated that the municipality is committed to making public health service even better in the coming days.
"We are thinking in that direction. This telemedical service is just in its initial phase," he said. "Many other health posts too will have this service in the future," he added.Patients, however, lamented the lack of medicines in the health post. Even though the digital consultations with senior doctors is a great relief, the government has not been able to provide them free drugs, they complain.