News / Asia

Telemedicine Transforming Rural India

Telemedicine Transforming Rural India
Telemedicine Transforming Rural India

Multimedia

Linda Blake

Eye doctors in India are now able to treat patients in remote villages thanks to a new wi-fi video conferencing network.

In this eye clinic in Andipatti village in Tamil Nadu state, patients are seeing things a little differently.

Patient Rajamanickam complains about an eye injury.

And 15 kilometers away, an ophthalmologist at the Aravind Eye Hospital in the city of Theni diagnoses and treats him.  Both are connected through an inexpensive wi-fi video conferencing network.

It is called "telemedicine" and it is increasing access to care in a country that is home to the world's largest number of blind people.

Eight vision centers have opened over the past six years in Theni district.  

The centers are run by an ophthalmic assistant who is trained to conduct a full eye examination, administer diagnostic tests, treat simple ailments and prescribe glasses.  

A doctor at centers as far as 150 kilometers away gives the final word to villagers.

"It is a useful instrument for the villagers. We can actually talk to the doctor directly from here," said Rajamanickam.

Rajamanickam normally would spend a full day traveling to the Aravind Eye Hospital. Instead, he traveled only three kilometers by local bus to this vision center in his village.

His exam cost about 50 cents, half what it would cost at the hospital. He saved $2 on transportation which he says he can now use for medicines.

The assistant also found a cataract in Rajamanickam's eye, which will require surgery at the hospital. Doctors say this early detection has prevented Rajamanickam from becoming blind.

Under the World Health Organization (WHO) 2020 initiative, India has pledged to eliminate avoidable blindness in 10 years.

The WHO reports that about a third of the world's 45 million blind people live in India. And the majority of causes such as cataracts and diabetes are treatable.

Aravind Eye Hospital has conducted mobile eye camps in villages across Tamil Nadu over the past two decades. Eye doctors have administered daylong screenings to roughly 750 patients each year.  

Now, with the vision centers in place, doctors are treating an average of 5,000 patients per center per year.  

Each center is connected to the main hospital by video towers, designed with the help of students at the University of California Berkeley in the United States. The towers cost $2,200 to set up, but very little to operate.

Dr. P. Namperumalsamy is chairman of Aravind Eye Hospital. He says the scarcity of doctors in India mades video treatment essential.  

"You may say that you're not touching the patient, you're not talking to the patient, but it's all the more better.  If left alone, what they do is will put native medicines or some unwanted medicines and spoil their eyes. This is better than that, and we can advise them the proper medicine for treatment," said Dr. Namperumalsamy.

The Indian government plans to set up 20,000 more rural vision centers in the coming years.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs