April 27, 2014

HYDERABAD: The ninth international symposium on ‘e-medicine: at doorstep of 21st century’ at the Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences (LUMHS) concluded on Sunday with several recommendations including for Sarrc member countries to sign a memorandum of understanding between their medical institutions for capacity building of their doctors in telemedicine and e-medicine.

“The government should take concrete steps to address the issue of limited access to health-care by promoting telemedicine through legislation making it mandatory for higher education institutions to start collaboration with healthcare professionals working in remote areas,” the experts at the symposium said.

They asked the government to fund district and tehsil hospitals and provide them with necessary infrastructure, including internet facilities, computers, scanners, printers and required software to promote telemedicine.

This would serve 160 million people of Pakistan, where 60 per cent of people live in rural areas with little access to modern health facilities, they said.

The experts said that medical universities and higher education institutions should take initiative in this connection and undergraduate curriculum should have courses in basic computer skills.

They suggested that faculty development and electronic-based patient management programmes should be initiated. Institutions should develop infrastructure in the form of repositories or digital libraries to manage access to e-learning material, they said.

They proposed that higher education institutions should initiate diploma courses in telemedicine and medical institutions should collaborate with other non-medical and social organisations to write research proposals to promoting telemedicine.

Each medical institution and teaching hospital must develop a telemedicine clinic and department focusing on patients in remote areas.

On Sunday Prof Amir Khan spoke on “telemedicine” Prof Amir Zaman on “skilled training for postgraduates” Dr Zubeir A. Shaikh on “connecting rural and urban health centres”, Prof Mowadat Hussain Rana on “inter-professional education medicine — way forward in 21st century”, Prof Syed Iftikhar on “oesophageal cancer-journey so far” and Prof Khalid Iqbal Talpur on “e-medicine in our practice”.

Addressing to the concluding session, LUMHS Vice Chancellor Prof Noshad A. Sheikh said the symposium had provided an opportunity to the university to share findings of researchers while they provided high quality learning. “E-medicine is an important source of learning, but it is expensive for which the government would have to provide infrastructure at different levels,” he said.

He said that recent developments in the information technology allowed health-care professionals to share information and discuss patients’ issues with health experts.


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