A telemedicine project started by an Odisha-based social entrepreneur is slowly going national after the Central government adopted it as a model project two years ago. Started in 2009, the unique model that focusses on sustainability involves training of local youth in e-medicine services and enables them to set up e-health centres in government-run primary health-care centres (PHC), community health centres (CHC) and subdivisional hospitals. These centres have created job opportunities for over 500 youth in Odisha and reached out to over five lakh patients.
For jobs and health
“There are two main problems that ail us — unemployment and bad health. Through this micro-entrepreneurship programme we have attempted to tackle both,” says Kedarnath Bhagat, managing trustee of Odisha Trust of Technical Education and Training (OTTET) under the aegis of which the telemedicine model was conceptualised. At OTTET, local youth are trained for a month in an e-health assistance programme, after which they can apply for a bank loan to start an e-health centre in PHCs and CHCs. “On average, the cost of starting a telemedicine centre goes up to ₹6 lakh. A centre needs a staff of four people, including the entrepreneur,” explains Mr. Bhagat, adding that typically a centre is equipped with a laptop with video camera and basic diagnostic testing facilities like blood glucose meter, urine analyser, heart rate monitor, etc. So far, 127 such centres have been opened in Odisha at the village and district level (see picture).