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The Department of Ayush (Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha & Homeopathy) is set to expand the current pilot projects of telemedicine services to more states and is targeting to set up one lakh nodes in the next five years to take the benefits of tertiary healthcare in the Indian systems of medicine (ISM) to distant villages in the country. At present the project is being implemented in select regions in Tripura and Bihar. The department has received such proposals from states like J&K, Punjab, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal. The department is planning a mega roll-out across the country under the 'Ayush and Public Health Scheme', sources said.

“Considering the huge utility of telemedicine facilities for rural and remote populations, particularly where even basic public health infrastructure does not exist, it is proposed to introduce Ayush telemedicine nationwide during the 12th plan for covering the remote areas of the country including north east and hilly states,” sources said. Department of Ayush with the intention of increasing the outreach of Ayush services facilitated a pilot project of Tele-Homoeopathy in Tripura to provide health care through 10 centres coordinated by the State Homoeopathic Hospital, Agarthala. There being no enabling provision in any of the 11th Plan Schemes to support such a project, the financial support was provided by the National Institute of Homoeopathy, Kolkata from its own funds.

Another such telemedicine project is being run in Bihar, where patients with eye diseases are provided ayurvedic treatment. The project is undertaken through CCRAS for the advantage of patients that any time of the day they can walk into the kiosk, take consultation on video with a doctor sitting either in the PHC or Hospital. This project is going on for the last one and a half years and found to be viable and successful. The project was selected for the ‘Scindia Award’ given by Telecom Ministry and was recently conferred with e-World 2011 Jury Choice Award under the Best Public Private Partnership initiative category jointly instituted by the Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies (CSDMS), Ministry of Communication & Information Technology, and Department of Telecom, sources said.

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