After 40 years of prolonged conflict and instability, Afghanistan’s national health system has become fragmented. The use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) is one way that medical institutions can improve access to and affordability of healthcare throughout the region. The eHealth approach is particularly valuable for people living in rural remote areas, who are often the most underserved in terms of medical services.
Since 2007, FMIC’s eHealth programme, part of the larger AKDN programme, has been harnessing the potential of ICTs to expand access to coordinated, high quality healthcare throughout Afghanistan and eventually Central Asia. Utilizing a range of modern technologies including videoconferencing and shared databases, FMIC’s approach to eHealth helps to overcome barriers to access healthcare posed by security concerns, urban-rural divides, and financial limitations.
The programme currently reaches communities in Afghanistan and Tajikistan and has touched the lives of over 34000 people to date.
FMIC’s eHealth programme began when AKDN established a teleradiology link between FMIC and Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) in Karachi. Today, the eHealth programme connects six hospitals in the region: FMIC, the Bamyam and Faizabad Provincial Hospitals, Mirwais Regional Hospital Kandahar in Afghanistan, Khorog Oblast General Hospital in Tajikistan and AKUH and one Hospital in Paris. Recently FMIC started eLearning sessions with Bharak district hospital, beside that MoU was signed between AKMC-Polikhumri in Baghlan and FMIC but due to some reasons did not start yet.
The eHealth services that AKDN and FMIC provide have also expanded considerably.
FMIC’s healthcare professionals provide remote support to medical institutions throughout the region through live teleconsultation. This approach increases the speed of communication and strengthens knowledge sharing between health professionals throughout the AKDN eHealth System.
To date, FIMC’s eHealth programme has facilitated over 34000 consultations in a variety of specialties, including tele radiology (interpreting CT scans, mammograms and MRI images), tele pathology (working together to study and diagnose disease) and conducting live teleconsultations in specialties such as cardiology, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, dentistry, ophthalmology, orthopedics, surgery, adult internal medicine, ENT, dermatology, psychology and Neurology.
In 2015, new specialties and connections were initiated. Live teleconsultation in ENT, Adult Neurology and Pediatric Neurology were initiated between FMIC and AKUH. Also in September 2015, the first cardiology clinic was conducted between FMIC and La Chaine de L’espoir. Through this service, patients at FMIC are able to consult with and receive diagnosis and treatment from a cardiologist at La Chaine de L’espoir in Paris. OBGYN live U/S teleconsultations with Paris started in 2018.
In 2019 FMIC embarked on the following:
• CMEs were conducted in FMIC from Paris.
• A MoU between AKMC Baghlan and FMIC was signed.
• FMIC started eLearning sessions with Baharak in May 2019.
In addition, live tele-consultation and e-learning sessions were expanded in Faizabad between two districts of Bharak and Kishem.
Moreover, store-and-forward switch tele-ophthalmology between FMIC and AKUH and tele-radiology between Bharak District Hospital and FPH and Kisham District Hospital and FPH were initiated.
On average, eHealth services save at least 5 days and US$200 per case. Currently, FMIC hosts live teleconsultations with Bamyan and Faizabad Pronvincial Hospitals and Khorog Oblast General Hospital in specialties including cardiology, dentistry, dermatology, Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT), general surgery, internal medicine, neurology, obstetrics/gynecology, orthopedic, pediatric and pain management.
FMIC plays a vital role in increasing professional development opportunities for the healthcare teams at FMIC the Bamyam and Faizabad Provincial Hospitals, Mirwais Regional Hospital Kandahar in Afghanistan and Khorog General Hospital, Bharak district hospital and Paris.FMIC broadcasts monthly eLearning sessions to the partner hospitals and Aga Khan University Pakistan also offers specialized distance education opportunities. From 2008 to date, more than 8500 staff from participating hospitals attended a eLearning sessions, helping to improve the quality of patient care, diagnosis and information transfer.
FMIC, as the hub of eHealth activities in the region, will work with its implementing partners including Aga Khan Health Service in Afghanistan and Tajikistan to expand services to other sites in both countries. There are also plans to expand services to the Kyrgyz Republic.
eHealth Programme Supporters:
Different agencies are supporting eHealth activities at FMIC: CISCO, Roshan Telecommunication; Aga Khan Foundation and International Development Resource Centre, Canada.
The Global Affairs Canada supported the eHealth programme at FMIC through the Central Asia Health Systems Strengthening Project.
For more information on eHealth services please contact:
eHealth Coordinator, FMIC
Phone: +93 (0) 79 1070 000 Ext: 7013