Prime Minister directs setting up telemedicine networking in flood-hit areas

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani directed setting up of telemedicine networks in flood hit areas to tackle the challenge of water borne diseases.The Prime Minister chaired 25th meeting of Board of Directors of Universal Service Fund (USF) as Minister of Information Technology at Prime Minister House on Thursday morning.The meeting approved projects of Rs. 10 billion for Financial Year 2011-12 including initiation of USF pilot Project to set up telemedicine networks around Rawalpindi, Karachi and Multan.Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre, Karachi, Nishtar Medical College Multan and Holy Family Hospital Rawalpindi will be connected with 12 remote sites to set up three telemedicine networks.

Each of these remote sites will provide facilities of digital stethoscope, digital derma-scope, portable ultrasound, digital ECG and customized telemedicine software to the patients at their hometowns including consultations with the specialists sitting in the three main hospitals.The Prime Minister directed USF that in addition to the proposed cities in Sindh, Badin, Thatta, Dadu and Naushero Feroz, flood stricken districts like Nawabshah, Mirpur Khas, Umerkot and Sanghar should also be included in the telemedicine network immediately.  Similarly, he directed to include cities of Bahawalpur, Rahimyar Khan,Rajanpur, DG Khan, Qadirpur, Shujaabad, Mianwali and Kharian to the 12 cities initially planned.

He also directed that as soon as USF Fiber cable is laid in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, similar Tele-medicine projects should be started there.Other major telecom projects that are part of the newly approved budget include broadband, fiber optic cables and educational/tele-centers in the underserved parts of the county.The Prime Minister said that USF had to further speed up in order to cover the delays caused due to different factors during current and the last year. He further emphasized the board to keep ensuring transparency in biding process and execution of the projects.To ensure better execution of projects, decisions regarding extension in projects contractual timelines and establishing mechanism issues of the fund were also discussed and decided.The Prime Minister stressed upon optimal utilization of USF fund in bringing concrete progress in the near future, in terms ofapplications like e-agriculture, e-commerce, e-government, e- education, e-health and e-disaster management.

He said that USF should work in collaboration with other countries with better information technology expertise to establish state of the art IT learning institutions with a special focus on unserved and underserved areas.The Prime Minister urged board of directors of USF to ensure frequent board meetings to make it more effective.On part of the government too, he assured USF Board of full support and encouragement in carrying out this nation building task.Secretary Information and Technology, Chairman PTA, Member Telecom, CEO PTCL, CEO USF and Representative of Consumer Association of Pakistan attended the meeting as directors of USF Board.