Saturday, 18 May 2013

Telemedicine - A silent revolution in Indian Healthcare pioneered by ISRO

An Arabian saying goes "He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything". Unfortunately in a country like India, advances in healthcare are still available to the privileged few residing mainly in the urban area but majority of the population live in rural area. Further, this is compounded by poor medical facilities in rural and inaccessible areas, reluctance of doctors to serve in rural areas, etc. Thus, there is little hope for the larger population of this country for getting quality health care without having A silent revolution happening in the health sector of the country is Telemedicine, by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It hopes to bridge the gap between haves and have not’s as far as healthcare is concerned.

Telemedicine is the use of telecommunication and information technology for medical diagnosis and patient care. It involves transfer of electronic medical data (i.e. live video, high resolution images, voice, text and patient records) between the “Patient end” and the “Specialist end” using the combination of video, computer and network communication technologies.  The elements of a telemedicine network are viz., patient end; specialty end and communication link. A telemedicine system consists of a computer with relevant medical software and connected to medical diagnostic instruments like ECG, X-ray machine or an X-ray Scanner for scanning the X-ray images. The digitized images and medical reports of the patient are sent to the specialist hospital, which may be thousands of kilometers away, through a satellite VSAT system or terrestrial links. The specialist in the comfort of his hospital is able to examine the reports, diagnose, interact with the patient and suggest appropriate treatment during the video conferencing session through the telemedicine system. Tele-consultation is a great boon in post-operative care for patients coming from remote areas because money and time expended on travel is avoided. Telemedicine has its own limitations and it cannot be used in cases where any disease which requires clinical examination of the patient cannot be diagnosed by telemedicine eg skin disorders, pshychiatric disorders, etc. Telemedicine technology as of now in India, has been adopted in the following areas:-
1.   Tele-consultation.
2.   Tele-diagonsis.
3.   Tele-treatment.
4.   Tele-education
5.   Tele-training
6.   Tele-monitoring
7.   Tele-support.

ISRO has always been endeavouring to reach space technology to the grassroots. In India, telemedicine started during 2001 linking Apollo Hospital, Chennai with the Apollo Rural Hospital at Aragonda village in Chittor, Andhra Pradesh. The next one implemented during March 2002 linked  Naryana Hrudayalaya, Bangalore with Chamrajnagar District Hospital and The Vivekanada Memorial Trust Hospital at Saragur, both districts being located in Karnataka. Presently, ISRO’s Telemedicine Network stretches to around 100 hospitals all over the country with 78 remote/rural/district hospitals/health centres connected to 22 speciality hospitals located in the major cities. The thrust of ISRO’s Telemedicine Programme are as follows:
  1. Remote/Rural Hospitals and Speciality Hospitals.
  2. Continuing Medical Education (CME) – training for doctors & paramedics in rural/remote areas, from a higher level hospital/institution.
  3. Mobile Telemedicine Units
  4. Disaster Management Support.

The yeoman services rendered by ISRO’s telemedicine network in remote areas like Kargil and Leh in the North, offshore islands of Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshdweep, as well as interior parts of Orrisa, Karnataka, Kerala, Chattisgarh, J&K, North East is noteworthy. As per ISRO’s website, in Chamrajnagar telemedicine has cut down treatment cost by 81%. Further it is stated that in case of remote off-shore islands, this is much more significant both to the patient and the Government administration. In such cases, not only the patients have the cost saving but can be provided with quick and timely medical aid. Telemedicine has also been used since 2002 at Pampa, the foothills of Sabarimala Shrine, Kerala and during Tsunami in Andaman Island and Car Nicobar.

In India healthcare is a state subject and the larger application of telemedicine to benefit of the country would depend on the respective state government’s initiative in grabbing and implementing this technology. Telemedicine with passage of time will become more and more a refined technology. Its progress depends on application of mind by the concerned. High cost of equipments; high cost of maintenance; high training cost and poor connectivity are some of the impediments in telemedicine gaining greater acceptance in India. The field of Information and Communication technology is making giant strides consistently and this over a period of time should result in reduction in cost of hardware and software which will make will make telemedicine systems simpler and affordable.
It is seen from ISRO’s website that they have envisioned the development of a “HEALTHSAT”, an exclusive satellite for meeting the healthcare and medical education needs of India at large. This satellite, when deployed along with wireless and terrestrial communication links, can bring a large change in augmenting the present healthcare delivery system in the country. Telemedicine when fully implemented can be the mythical Sanjeevini to people living in remote/rural areas. It can enlarge the gap between life and death across the length and breadth of this country. We require untiring efforts from all the stake holders to make India a healthy country.

I would like to state that I have relied a lot upon material collected from ISRO website and their press releases.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Kitchens of India - My Gourmet Party - Mock and Delight Yourself (MADY)

This blog is written for Kitchens of India. Don’t forget to read the disclaimer at the end L.
 My party would have only Indian food, both vegetarian and non vegetarian but alcohol will not be served. As much as I love to treat people, I love to tease them. The theme of the party would be Mock and Delight Yourself (MADY). The recommended dress code would be Indian and violators will be made to walk back home after the partyJ.

The party would be held open air in a sufficiently large expanse of land. The guest list would not exceed 100-125. The people who miss families most are the senior citizens in old age homes. They have successfully raised their families but for some unfortunate reason find themselves in an old age home. To once again give them a taste of family life, a few from an old age home would be invited.  The entire area would be enclosed in Shamiyanas. Light music would be played at slightly louder than whispering volumes so that it merges with the festivity and does not become a nuisance value. Buffets are suited for an office lunch or for a restaurant but not for a family & friends dinner. Personal service is a must.

On entrance, after walking a few feet into the shamiyana, the guests would hit a dead end with cross roads on either side; one would look to be leading to the exit and other one into the party area. Obviously, the guests would choose the second path but after passing through a maze would find themselves going back to the parking lot. This would wake them up to the party’s theme “MADY”. On entering again through the correct path, they would be welcomed with a glass of sugarcane juice with a dash of pepper.

There is nothing better than beginning a dinner on a healthy note, never mind what you gobble later. To begin with, the guests would get liberal servings of Moong Salad and Kosamberi. Vegetarian starters would be in the form of Achari Paneer and Ladies Finger Fry while the non vegetarian palate would be served with Lemon Chicken, Keema Balls and Crab Fry. Bread would be in the form of Butter Naan and Kulcha. Curry has to be spicy otherwise for me it is a dessert. However, keeping in view varied tastes, vegetarian curry would be Dal Bukhara and Ennai Kathirrikai whereas the non vegetarian ones would be Butter Chicken, Chicken Chettinad and Chettinad Mutton Curry. A party based on Indian food without Biryani is like Kashmir without the snow capped mountains. To avoid any cause for such ridicule, there would be Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani and Mutton Dum Biryani. For the vegetarians, there would be Vegetable Biryani and Peas Pulav. Rasam has great digestive properties. If Europeans give a soup at the beginning to stimulate appetite, we give Rasam at the end to stimulate digestion. Here again, we have proved our forethought because digesting what you have eaten is of paramount importance. Thus, the penultimate serving would be White Rice and Rasam. Desserts would round off the party and they would be in the form of Jodhpur Moong Dal Halwa and Tender Coconut Water Payasam. Paan’s customary presence at the end would be ensured.

As far as entertainment is concerned, I would refrain from the usual antakshari, musical chairs, etc. There should be something which excites the families and also gives them a different perspective about each other. Have you ever wondered, mothers are so desperate to see their sons married? They will turn Earth upside down to get the best bride but once he is married and happy, they get jealous and the never ending Mother-in-Law [MiL] and Daughter-in-Law[DiL] battle begins. If only they learnt to live like mother and daughter, most nuclear families would never get created and many old age homes would go out of business. More often than not, a MiL and DiL never understand each other like and dislikes. To facilitate this, I have come up with KYSoB (Know Your Saans or Bahu) wherein they would separately be asked five questions about each other likes, dislikes, favourite food, color, holiday spot, etc and cross checked with the other to find the compatibility. Hopefully, they appreciate the common points and understand each other’s diverse interests. Couples have problems with each other because one does not realise how irritating he or she behaves in certain situations. To project this irritating attitude in a humorous way, there would be a contest wherein wife would mimic the husband and vice versa in typical situations. The judges would be the couples themselves. The winners would be given gift hampers of products from Kitchens of India by the specially invited senior citizens. After the party, the guest would be personally seen off by me and my family.

P.S: Dear relatives and friends, never ever expect such a treat from me, this is basically written for Kitchen’s of India contest. It took me a lot of magnanimity to imagine being so generous J J ☺.

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Banglaore, Karnataka, India