To provide primary healthcare in remote areas of Odisha that lack doctors, the state government on Tuesday signed an agreement with a private healthcare service provider to set up 102 “digital dispensaries” in 23 districts of the state.
The dispensaries aim to provide primary healthcare services, such as doctor consultations and basic investigations for infectious diseases, using a telemedicine network.
An agreement was signed on Tuesday between the state health and family department and Kolkata-based Glocal Healthcare Systems in the presence of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Health Minister Pratap Jena.
According to the Glocal Healthcare Systems website, it is a social venture seeking to provide healthcare to rural India. “Doctors can remotely examine the patients through digital stethoscopes, otoscopes. and get almost all tests, including LFT (liver function test), KFT (kidney function test), lipid profile, glucose, malaria and typhoid done within 15 minutes,” Glocal’s CEO Dr Sabahat Azim told The Indian Express. “Medicines will also be dispensed automatically from ‘ATM type’ set-ups.”
In March 2017, India had over 25,000 Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) of which 1,280 were in Odisha.
According to a senior official in the Odisha health department, PHCs in the state are hit by a lack of doctors, who are unwilling to serve in rural areas despite government incentives. “Those who are appointed to these places also largely remain absent from their service location. People, especially poor and tribal communities, are forced to go to quacks,” he said.