Kabul: Doctors successfully seperated conjoined twins|How e-health is changing lives in Afghanistan

Dr Jalil Wardaq with Father of Ayesha and Sidiqa
Dr Jalil Wardaq with Father of Ayesha and Sidiqa

Kabul, Afghanistan, 7 July 2016 – The French Medical Institute for Children, Afghanistan’s leading children’s hospital, is managed by the Aga Khan University. It was established in a four way partnership between the Government of Afghanistan, the Government of France, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and the French NGO, La Chaîne de l’Espoir.

The hospital’s eHealth programme, which brings expertise from around the world to the remotest parts of Afghanistan, hit a milestone in June – 20,000 teleconsultations.

The case for an affordable, accessible eHealth programme for Afghanistan has always been clear. With just 2 doctors for every 10,000 people, it is difficult for the country’s 32 million people to obtain timely access to quality healthcare.

While eHealth may be common in the developed world, it is a technology that represents a quantum leap for Afghanistan. Ten years ago, the country had no telephones; today, mobile phone coverage blankets the nation, thanks in large part to Roshan, the mobile phone operator set up by the Aga Khan Development Network. Roshan provides the network that allows teleconsultations to take place.

Since the eHealth programme was launched almost 10 years ago, in 2007, specialists in Paris and Karachi have supported local doctors in tackling many complicated cases and providing access to specialist care, thereby helping patients address the cost, inconvenience and delays of travelling to see a doctor.

Aysha and Sidiqa, conjoined twins, are one of the many remarkable eHealth stories. Born joined at the abdomen, they were lucky to have access to specialists when they were just eight days old. After a live teleconsultation between doctors at the Faizabad Provincial Hospital in Badakshan and Dr Jalil Wardak, FMIC’s head of paediatric surgery, the girls’ father was persuaded to bring the twins to the hospital. Haider Mohammad travelled 300 km to Kabul for the girls’ life-saving operation that successfully separated them.

“I was worried that all this might be a dream. But when I saw my daughters sleeping in separate beds, I realised that my dream had come true,” said the mother of the twin girls who are now healthy and 10 months old.

FMIC currently has access to expertise at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi and the Necker Hospital for Sick Children in Paris, France. In turn, it provides services to the provincial hospitals in Bamyan, Faizabad and Kandahar.

Afghanistan’s eHealth network is being supported physically and financially through a public-private partnership. FMIC and the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi provide the clinical expertise; the Aga Khan Health Service, Afghanistan manages the hospitals in the provinces of Bamyan and Badakhshan for Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health; and the private sector, through Roshan Telecom, supplies the telecommunication services. AKDN eHealth resource centre provide the technical expertise underpinning the initiative.

Source: AKDN org

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