After 30 years of prolonged conflict and instability, Afghanistan’s national health system is weak and 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 by 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 posed by security concerns, urban-rural divides, and financial limitations.
The programme currently reaches communities in Afghanistan and Tajikistan and has crossed the lives of over 25,000 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.
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 25,400 consultations in a variety of specialities, including teleradiology (interpreting CT scans, mammograms and MRI images), telepathology (working together to study and diagnose disease) and conducting live teleconsultations in specialities such as cardiology, obstetrics/gynaecology and paediatrics.
In 2015, new specialties and connections were initiated. Live teleconsultation in ENT, Adult Neurology and Paediatric Neurology were initiated between FMIC and AKUH. Also on 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.
In addition, live tele-consultation and e-learning sessions were expanded in Faizabad between two districts of Bharak and Kishem.
Moreover, in store and forward system 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/gynaecology, orthopedic, paediatrics and pain management.
FMIC’s 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. FMIC broadcasts monthly eLearning sessions to the partner hospitals and Aga Khan University Pakistan also offers specialised distance education opportunities. From 2008 to date, more than 7,000 staff from participating hospitals attended an eLearning session, 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 Krygz Republic.
Supporting eHealth Programme
Different agencies have supporting eHealth activities at FMIC: CISCO, Roshan Telecommunication; Aga Khan Foundation and International Development Resource Centre, Canada.
The Global Affairs Canada is supporting the eHealth programme at FMIC through the Central Asia Health Systems Strengthening Project (2013-2017).
(Last updated- July 2017)
For more information on eHealth services please contact:
eHealth Coordinator, FMIC
Phone: +93 (0) 79 1070 000 Ext: 7013