In a first for the country’s conflict zones, security forces have roped in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Raipur, for providing treatment to villagers living in seven districts of Chhattisgarh’s Maoist-hit Bastar region using telemedicine.
The community outreach facility will also be used by CRPF personnel stationed at remote camps in Bastar.
“Twice a week, a panel of doctors at AIIMS Raipur will connect with villagers and paramilitary personnel at more than 100 CRPF camps across Bastar region through Skype (where net connectivity is available) or mobile phones,” said Zulfiquar Hasan, IG CRPF in Chhattisgarh. At remote CRPF camps where neither net nor mobile connectivity is available, doctors can be reached through the digital satellite phone terminal (DSPT).
“Villagers can come to the CRPF camps on appointed days and speak to our doctors for diagnosis and treatment,” said Nitin M Nagarkar, director at AIIMS Raipur. The AIIMS medical college is already functional while the 960-bed hospital will start in phases from next month.
Each CRPF camp has about 15-20 villages around, most in remote areas with poor road connectivity. Caught between the Maoists and the security forces, villagers in the region live in the shadow of the gun, grappling with acute poverty, poor infrastructure and diseases.
The CRPF already runs medical camps for villagers each month in Chhattisgarh and maintains stocks of medicines at its units spread across 100 locations. “We will provide villagers with medicines prescribed by the doctors at the teleconsultation. If required, we will arrange to shift a patient for treatment to city hospitals,” said Hasan.
A trial run was conducted at 10 CRPF camps on Saturday. Nagarkar will also lead a team of doctors to visit remote areas to assess the medical needs of villagers. “We will identify areas and plan to set up satellite centres,” he said.