From the Aga Khan Medical Centre, Khorog, Tajik doctors provide virtual consultations for Afghan doctors and patients on the other side of the border, saving patients the time and expense of travelling the long distance to Faizabad Hospital.
AKDN / Christopher Wilton-Steer
From the Aga Khan Medical Centre, Khorog, Tajik doctors provide virtual consultations for Afghan doctors and p...
AKDN / Christopher Wilton-Steer
Developing countries of South and Central Asia such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan, where AKDN operates, are renowned for their geographical remoteness, rugged terrain, harsh climate and high poverty rate. Isolated and marginalised communities living in rural, mountainous regions of these countries lack access to qualified healthcare providers and healthcare institutions. They have to pay large sums for travel costs, food and lodging to go from remote locations, where it is not possible to obtain high-quality diagnostic services and treatment, to higher-level referral facilities.
The AKDN Digital Health Programme is designed to address this challenge. Its overarching aim is to improve health outcomes of children, women and men in target areas of Afghanistan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan and Tajikistan in South-Central Asia, and Kenya and Tanzania in East Africa. It leverages the power of ICT to link underserved communities with healthcare institutions and healthcare providers. The goal is to provide access to low-cost, equitable health services to these communities and help minimise the barriers of distance and time. The Programme also focuses on building the professional capacity of healthcare providers in Asia and East Africa.
In Kenya, to ensure quality diagnosis and treatment doctors at Mariakani Subcounty Hospital in Kilifi County have eHealth consultations regularly with specialists at the Aga Khan Hospital Mombasa.
AKDN / Lucas Cuervo Moura
The AKDN Digital Health Programme is unique in that it attempts to address three major barriers to health care – access, quality and cost – in low-resource settings via ICTs. Digital health services provided under the AKDN Digital Health Programme include teleconsultations and eLearning sessions. Teleconsultations (live and store-and-forward) improve the health status of communities within defined catchment areas by delivering cost-effective diagnosis and treatment while reducing travel and other costs and time spent by patients and their families.
eLearning sessions offered to healthcare providers under the Programme improve their skills and capacity. This service ensures continuous professional development and enables healthcare providers to effectively deliver clinical care and manage digital health operations. They benefit from continuing professional development and are able to provide better, targeted care to patients.
The activities under the AKDN Digital Health Programme strengthen health systems through a three-tier hub and spoke model developed in a systematic, coordinated, evidence-based and cost-effective manner.
Between June 2007 and March 2023, almost 70,000 teleconsultations were conducted and over 36,000 healthcare professionals were trained through eLearning across six countries. Currently, 69 health facilities are providing digital health services in Asia and Africa in various specialties. The overarching aim of the AKDN Digital Health Programme is to improve health outcomes of children, women and men in target areas of Afghanistan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan and Tajikistan in Asia, and Kenya and Tanzania in East Africa.