The Government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Minister for Finance, Planning & Development and Health Dr Muhammad Najeeb Naqi recently visited the COMSATS Internet Services (CIS) Tele Medicine Resource Center at Islamabad for a demonstration of Telemedicine services offered by COMSATS Internet Services. DrKhalid Rafique, Director General AJK IT Board accompanied the honourable Minister.

Mr. Muhammad Hassan, Project Director COMSATS Internet Services Telemedicine project welcomed the esteemed guests to CIS headquarters and gave a presentation on history and operations of the project. He informed that COMSATS Internet Services (CIS) is the pioneer of Telemedicine services in Pakistan and has established a network of 12 rural clinics in all provinces of Pakistan.  These clinics are connected via broadband Internet with CIS Telemedicine Resource Centre, Islamabad where a panel of specialists provide free medical consultation to patients visiting our remote clinics. These clinics are equipped with latest means of video conferencing, computer systems, necessary digital Tele health diagnostics equipment. Patient’s data is maintained on CIS developed web portal for future reference. More than 45,000 patients have been examined and advised so far. Mr. Hassan emphasized the importance of Telemedicine for communities in rural and far flung areas and said that without this technology; the rural communities would have no access to “life-saving health services”.  He stated that keeping in view the vulnerability of the region to natural disasters and the adverse  impact by climate change; Telemedicine could serve as an important line of defence in providing health care facilities to hard to reach communities in the region so that nobody in need of medical care is denied timely health care facilities due to lack of means or connectivity in line with the philosophy of universal access approach.

Dr Muhammad Najeeb Naqi, himself a medical doctor took keen interest in the Telemedicine facilities developed by COMSATS Internet Services and the services that were being extended to rural and remote areas through the use of modern technology.  Speaking on the occasion; Dr Muhammad Najeeb Naqi said that the AJK government

is concerned not only with urban health but also rural, and had initiated many projects and policies for the well-being of all communities. The Government had launched a massive healthcare reforms package to benefit the people of AJK for bringing latest medical facilities to their door step. In addition to launch of emergency services in 11 hospitals, hiring of staff, upgradation and establishment of hospitals and Nursing Schools, establishment of a health regulatory authority was also in process.

Dr Muhammad Najeeb Naqi further stated that the AJK Government was fully cognizant of the socio economic needs of its citizens and solid foundation had been laid for uplift of the people of the area, provision of basic amenities of life and accelerating the pace of developmental activities in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. He said that the Government had allocated 6.6 Billion Rupees for the health sector in current budget with the objective to bringing visible improvement not only in the quality of healthcare services but also their accessibility throughout the region. However, he said, still more concentrated efforts are required for universal healthcare access throughout AJK.  One of the key strategies for bringing healthcare services to the door step of people of AJK was through use of modern technologies and Telemedicine could go a long way in helping Government address a fundamental problem of health care delivery in all corners of AJK.

DrKhalid Rafique. Director General AJK IT Board stated that his organization is steering the digital transformation of AJK to enable socio economic uplift of its people and facilitate efficient delivery of citizen services. He said that due to challenging geography and poor infrastructure resulting from years of neglect, the region faces a big pile of problems; however, the focus and energy of the government in solving practical problems through use of modern ICT tools is yielding positive results. He said that  COMSATS Internet Services has a long standing partnership with the Government of AJK and its support in accelerating the digital transformation as well as facilitating citizen service delivery initiatives could be very helpful for the people of AJK. Dr. Khalid also complimented on the Telemedicine service run by COMSATS Internet Services. He said that use of this technology in AJK would not only increase health care coverage; but also give medical practitioners the opportunity to learn more, as well as to perfect their skills through collaboration with large expatriate Kashmiri doctors community abroad. Telemedicine would also act as a platform for sharing information and providing education, public health and administrative services to remote areas.

In the end, Mr. Muhammad Hassan, Project Director COMSATS Internet Services Telemedicine project thanked the worthy guests for their visit to Telemedicine clinic and their keen interest in technology and operations.  He expressed COMSATS Internet Services commitment to provide technical and operational support in the areas of Internet infrastructure and medical care to enable universal access throughout AJK.