Bangalore: Kochi’s 1,300-bed 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 of ANGHOS member hospitals in Nepal with its medical experts in India. The wide-ranging agreement, which also involves initiatives like training and exchange programs for doctors, students and nurses, promises to herald a new era of collaborative healthcare between the two countries.
The agreement was signed by Dr Prem Nair, Medical Director, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi, and Dr. Bharat Pradhan, Chairperson, ANGHOS, Nepal. Leading nephrologist from Nepal Dr. Rishi Kumar Kafle and Shyam Dhaubhadel, Executive Member, ANGHOS, were also present on the occasion, along with Brahmachari Nijamrita Chaitanya of the Mata Amritanandamayi Math, the NGO under whose auspices Amrita Hospital falls.
The ANGHOS member institutions in Nepal which will benefit from the telemedicine service include PHECT -Model Hospital and Kirtipur Hospital; Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology; Nepal Anti-Tuberculosis Association; National Kidney Centre; Manmohan Memorial Community Hospital; Siddhi Memorial Foundation Hospital; and Nepal Orthopedic Hospital.
Nurses from Nepal to be trained in infection control practices. Training programs in advanced surgery to begin soon for Nepalese doctors.
Said Dr Prem Nair, Medical Director, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi: “With the setting up of telemedicine centers in Nepal, the expertise of our medical specialists will become available to hospitals affiliated with ANGHOS. This will enable us to deliver advanced but affordable patient care and healthcare delivery to the people of Nepal. We expect to review at least 20 to 25 Nepalese patients every month through telemedicine, especially difficult cases. We have already begun treatment of two referrals from ANGHOS hospitals at the Amrita hospital in Kochi. Furthermore, six nurses from Nepal have completed their training with us in advanced infection-control practices. Training programs in advanced surgery will begin soon.”
Said Shyam S. Dhaubhadel, Executive Member, Association of Non-Government Hospitals (ANGHOS), Nepal: “Patients in Nepal will benefit immensely through this collaboration. Delivery of quality care at ANGHOS-affiliated hospitals will improve through direct consultation with medical specialists in India and referrals of difficult cases to 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 S. 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 in areas like head and neck, upper airway cancers, thyroid, heart diseases, 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 for medical students of Nepal.”
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 (MAM) has collaborated with Nepal to humanitarian ends. Following the Nepal earthquake of 2015, the Math provided food, blankets, materials for constructing temporary shelters and more than two tons of medicines and surgical supplies, including 50 tons of wheat and 2,000 sets of warm clothing.