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ICT Health India: Mobile Phones Bring Eye Exams to Rural Poor in India

Sankara Nethralaya hospital, a not-for-profit ophthalmic hospital in Chennai, has "mobile van units that operate out of remote rural areas."

"Technicians offer basic eye-checks for the rural poor, and then the results are transmitted through a messaging service and very small aperture terminals (VSATs) to an eye specialist in Chennai. Roughly 60-120 patients are examined per day."

Implications:

"In the past few years, there has been an increased interest across India to use... ICT to bridge some of the gaps evident in the country‟s healthcare. As the penetration of ICT increases in the coming years, this intersection could yield greater successes, specifically having a significant impact on the lives of the poor."

"As of February 2011, there were 825 million mobile phone subscriptions in India. As of 2010, there were approximately 80 million internet users in the country... As both mobile phone and internet usage will increase in the coming years, more attempts can be expected to convert this into a practical means to increase healthcare access."

"At present, most ventures are fragmented, and disparate from one another. For example, there are several free numbers that a person can call in an emergency but they differ from city to city, and even from service provider to service provider. This heavily diminishes their success."

"There is a potential for foundations to intervene to create a forum for different players to interact and streamline the different projects. Another intervention possibility is in the area of increasing awareness amongst the poor about the different projects that they can avail themselves of."

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Sources:

SFG June 2011, page 4:
http://newsletters.clearsignals.org/SFG_June 2011.pdf#page=4