News South Asian theme issue

The great technological divide

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 01 April 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:788
  1. Ganapati Mudur
  1. New Delhi

    Whereas some hospitals and medical schools are introducing telemedicine networks and computer assisted learning, health clinics elsewhere do not even have the facilities to carry out a caesarean section. Ganapati Mudur sees a digital divide opening up in South Asia

    An infant girl, barely 72 hours old after a premature birth and still struggling for life in a Mumbai hospital, needed Rh negative blood. The hospital had exhausted its stock,and the parents had failed to find a suitable donor.

    Someone suggested a blood bank in an eastern suburb of the city. There, a technician searched a database of nearly 2000 potential blood donors. In an hour, three donors had turned up at the hospital. “There was some scepticism even among medical colleagues when welaunched the database six years ago,” says Dr Ajit Chitre, medical director of the bank. “They asked us why we were collecting addresses, rather than blood. But it's gone now.”

    The database of blood donors in Mumbai is a vivid illustration of how information technology—computers and communication—is transforming healthcare delivery in South Asia. Telemedicine networks have sprung up to deliver health care to remote locations, and patients now have the option of consulting some doctors online.

    For the medical community, the introduction of information technology has meant easierand faster …

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