Roshan has teamed with Cisco, the Government of Afghanistan, The Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi (AKUH), French Medical Institute for Children (FMIC), Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS), Bamyan Provincial Hospital (BPH) and other technology suppliers to undertake the project. Launched in 2007, the project already links FMIC in Kabul, Afghanistan to AKUH in Karachi, Pakistan, enabling access to a broad array of radiology expertise provided by AKUH.
The second phase links BPH to the FMIC, which is being developed as an Afghan centre of medical excellence. To date, more than 340 patients have benefited from telemedicine and more than 231 Afghan medical personnel have participated in diagnostic and training opportunities facilitated by the technology.
Telemedicine links will be extended to other provincial hospitals and eventually to medical institutions in Europe and North America. The telemedicine project developed in Afghanistan is also seen as a model for addressing health care delivery shortcomings in other developing countries where access to medical diagnosis, treatment and training is limited.
"After the launch and initial success of telemedicine in Kabul, we are delighted to begin extending telemedicine links to provincial hospitals in Afghanistan, where the need for access to quality specialist diagnosis and training is even greater", stated Karim Khoja, Chief Executive Officer of Roshan. "Telemedicine further demonstrates the power of wireless technology to improve people's lives and expand the health care resources available to the people of Afghanistan."
Since 2002, the Aga Khan University has been working with the Government of Afghanistan and donor agencies to strengthen human resource capacity in nursing, medicine and teacher education in Afghanistan. "The Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi has been responsible for the management of FMIC that provides high quality health care to the children of Afghanistan. We are proud to work with partners such as Roshan and CISCO to expand telemedicine in Afghanistan that broadens access to high quality health care to those in isolated communities", stated Al-Karim Haji, Director General and Chief Financial Officer of AKU.
The Bamyan region in Afghanistan has some of the highest levels of maternal and child mortality in Afghanistan. For every 22.500 births, there are 382 maternal deaths and 3937 infant deaths. The Bamyan Provincial Hospital was originally established in 2001 and in 2004, the Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS) assumed management as part of its wider endeavour to improve the living conditions and quality of life for the people of Bamyan. The hospital has since grown from 30 beds to its present capacity of 74 beds. There are an estimated 514.698 people served by the hospital on an annual basis.
Dr. Semira Manaseki-Holland, Regional Chief Executive Officer, AKHS, Central Asia, stated: "The extension of the telemedicine solution to the Bamyan Provincial Hospital is a major step in advancing our health care capabilities and access to top-quality specialists. Already, almost 100 patients in our care have benefited from telemedicine."
His Excellency Amirzai Sangin, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan added: "Our Government is striving to improve the quality of life of our people and providing quality health care is one of our top priorities. This innovative use of technology and telecommunications to enhance health care delivery will support our efforts to meet the nation's other development challenges."
Telemedicine involves the use of broadband technology that provides real-time high speed access for the transfer of medical imaging, video, data and voice. Applications include the ability to send real-time X-ray, ultrasound and CAT Scans - Computerized Axial Tomography - for evaluation. The technology also enables e-learning and learning through video conferencing.
The initial service provided is teleradiology, the electronic transmission of radiological patient images. There are currently an average of 40 teleradiology cases evaluated monthly between FMIC and AKUH and ongoing training provided to medical professionals to build capacity. Telemedicine capabilities will gradually be expanded to other rural regions of Afghanistan, to include the use of smart-phone and PDAs, and to address different services and procedures including evaluation of tissue samples and the on-line performance of medical and surgical procedures.
Roshan has spearheaded development of the telemedicine project from initial conceptualization through implementation through its Corporate Social Responsibility arm and is part of its ongoing commitment to serving as a catalyst for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Over the next three to five years, Roshan will invest $1,5 million in the telemedicine project. Roshan is part of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), which is one of nine Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) agencies that address a wide spectrum of development challenges.
Regarding the telemedicine project, Aly Mawji, Resident Representative for AKDN, stated: "The inauguration of telemedicine services between Bamyan and Kabul is an example of the exciting progress being made in Afghanistan, showing how new innovations are bringing tangible improvement to people's lives. That this inauguration is happening at the same time as the opening of a new operating theatre block at the Bamyan Provincial Hospital and the beginning of the fourth session of the Bamyan community midwifery programme bears testimony that progress is possible and is happening in Afghanistan in remote rural areas."
The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is a group of nine international development agencies and institutions which implement programmes in rural development, education, health, culture, microfinance and business. The network, led by its founder, His Highness the Aga Khan, is dedicated to improving living conditions and opportunities for the poor, without regard to their faith, origin or gender. The AKDN agencies are private and non-denominational, working in some thirty countries, mainly in Asia and Africa.
Roshan - Telecom Development Company Afghanistan Ltd. - is Afghanistan's leading telecom operator, with coverage in over 230 cities and towns and approximately 3,5 million active subscribers. Roshan directly employs more than 1100 people and provides indirect employment to more than 25.000 people. Since its inception 5 years ago, Roshan has invested almost US $400 million in Afghanistan and is the country's single largest investor and tax payer. Roshan is deeply committed to Afghanistan's reconstruction and socio-economic development.
The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), part of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), is a major shareholder of Roshan and promotes private initiatives and building economically sound enterprises in the developing world. Also owned in part by Monaco Telecom International (MTI) and TeliaSonera, Roshan brings international expertise to Afghanistan and is committed to the highest standards of network quality and coverage for the people of Afghanistan.
The Aga Khan University was chartered in 1983 as Pakistan's first private university. Its objective is to promote human welfare in general, and the welfare of the people of Pakistan in particular, by disseminating knowledge and providing instruction, training, research and service in the health sciences, education and such other branches of learning as the University may determine. AKU also has programmes in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, the United Kingdom, Afghanistan, Syria and Egypt.
The Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS) is one of the most comprehensive private not-for-profit health care systems in the developing world, with community health programmes in Central and South Asia and in East Africa. In Afghanistan, the AKHS is assisting the government to develop a national health care system by managing and staffing a network of health facilities, providing community health education and by training midwives and other women health professionals.
The French Medical Institute for Children (FMIC) is a private, non-profit health institution founded in 2005 through a unique public-private partnership between the Governments of Afghanistan and France, a French NGO - La Chaine de L'Espoir/Enfants Afghans and the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) through the Aga Khan University Hospital Karachi (AKUH, Karachi) has risen to the challenge to assist in charting the course towards sustainable health care solutions for Afghanistan and advances have been made in both immediate service delivery and long-term policy planning.
FMIC has served Afghans from all 34 provinces and has a policy of providing services to all in need regardless of their financial means, race or creed. The French Medical Institute for Children (FMIC) has become the only health care organisation in Afghanistan to meet the standards for the International Organization for Standardization's (ISO) 9001:2008 quality management systems.
More information about the Afghanistan telemedicine project is available in the VMW July 2007 article Roshan announces launch of Afghanistan's first telemedicine project.