Our own Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences & Research Center (Amrita Hospital) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Kathmandu-based Association of Non-Government Hospitals (ANGHOS) to establish telemedicine centers linking seven ANGHOS-member hospitals in Nepal with Amrita’s medical experts in India.
The wide-ranging agreement, which also includes initiatives such as a training and exchange programs for doctors, students and nurses, heralds a new era of collaborative healthcare between the two countries.
The agreement was signed by Dr. Prem Nair, Medical Director of Amrita Hospital, and Dr. Bharat Pradhan, the Chairperson of ANGHOS, Nepal. Leading nephrologist from Nepal, Dr. Rishi Kumar Kafle and Executive Member of ANGHOS Shyam Dhaubhadel, were also present for the occasion, as well as Amma’s representative Brahmachari Nijamrita Chaitanya.
The ANGHOS-member institutions that will benefit from the telemedicine service include PHECT (Public Health Concern Trust), Model Hospital and Kirtipur Hospital, the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, the Nepal Anti-Tuberculosis Association, the National Kidney Centre, the Manmohan Memorial Community Hospital, the Siddhi Memorial Foundation Hospital, and the Nepal Orthopedic Hospital.
“With the setting up of cross-border telemedicine centers between India and Nepal, the expertise of our medical specialists will instantly become available to hospitals affiliated with ANGHOS,” Dr. Nair said. “This will enable us to deliver advanced but affordable patient care to the people of Nepal.”
Dr. Nair added that Amrita Hospital expects to review at least 20 to 25 Nepalese patients through telemedicine every month, with a stress on difficult cases. “We have already begun treatment of two referrals from ANGHOS hospitals,” he said. “Furthermore, six nurses from Nepal have completed their training with us in advanced infection-control practices. Training programs in advanced surgery will begin soon,” he added.
ANGHOS Executive Member, Shyam Dhaubhadel said, “Patients in Nepal will benefit immensely through this collaboration. Delivery of quality care at ANGHOS-affiliated hospitals will be improved through direct consultation with medical specialists in India and by referrals of difficult cases to the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences. Over time, quality of care in Nepal will also increase through advanced training of doctors, nurses, and other health professionals in cutting-edge methods and infection control, with the help of Amrita Hospital. Indirect benefits to patients will occur through improvement of hospital management practices, cost-control strategies, and collaborative funding opportunities.”
Shyam Dhaubhadel added, “Advanced training in many medical specialties is either very limited or completely unavailable in Nepal, forcing our doctors to seek training in other countries. Due to this, there is a chronic shortage of medical specialists in the country. Providing healthcare in remote areas is also a big challenge for us. Although there is some capability in telemedicine applications within Nepal, this needs to be greatly expanded. Also, increased awareness and application of infection control practices is needed throughout the country. As a leader in medical training, telemedicine, and infection control training, Amrita hospital was an ideal choice for collaboration with ANGHOS member hospitals.”
Skill enhancement of healthcare professionals through medical education and training programs is an important part of the MoU. Dr. Prem Nair said, “We intend to provide specialized short-term training for doctors and other healthcare professionals from Nepal. The training areas would involve specialties like head and neck, upper airway cancers, thyroid, heart diseases, arthroscopy surgery, radiology and pathology. We are starting training programs in laparoscopy and advanced surgical skills for Nepalese doctors. Additionally, we will be developing an e-Learning package to enhance the training of medical students.”
As part of the MoU, the joint research projects between Indian and Nepalese healthcare professionals will revolve around neglected tropical diseases and dengue, chikungunya, malaria and filaria. Community-based health activities will be another focus area.
This is not the first time the Mata Amritanandamayi Math, our parent organization, collaborated with Nepal on humanitarian projects. Following the Nepal earthquake of 2015, through an arrangement with the Nepalese Government, the Math provided food, blankets, constructing materials (such as corrugated tin roofing sheets) for temporary shelters, and more than two tons of medicines and surgical supplies. Included in these provisions were 50 tons of wheat, 2,000 sets of warm clothes, and 1,000,000 Tetanus Toxoid vaccines.