Ranchi: The state health department has drawn up an ambitious plan to launch 100 digital dispensaries, which if operated competently, will go a long way in giving derailed public health services in Jharkhand a much-needed boost.
Dr Raj Mohan, a senior functionary of National Rural Health Mission's Jharkhand chapter, told this correspondent on Thursday that the digital dispensaries would be an improved version of the telemedicine project, which was started in eight places on an experimental basis a year ago, but later discontinued.
"They (the telemedicine centres at six primary health centres in Rahe, McCluskieganj and Nagri in Ranchi, Karaduba in East Singhbhum and Badam in Hazaribagh, besides two district hospitals in Koderma and Palamau) were stopped a few months ago because they were part of an experiment. Based on that experience, we plan to roll out 100 digital dispensaries in 7-9 months," he said.
Elaborating on the concept, Dr Mohan said it would be a virtual and centralised hospital that would connect with 100 primary health centres through telephone and live video between 9am and 4pm.
"A team of 20-25 experts, specialising in various medical disciplines, will man the central hub. Primary health centres, where patients turn up, will be offered daily telephonic and vide-conferencing access to the central facility. The health centre will have a pharmacy each stocked with generic medicines and a pathological lab for basic blood tests such as haemoglobin count," the doctor said.
According to Dr Mohan, a requisition of Rs 21 crore for the project was sent to the Union health ministry two months ago. While funds are awaited, groundwork for the digital dispensaries has begun.
"In a couple of days, we shall float tenders inviting interested parties. A pre-bid meeting will be held on November 28 at our office in Namkum," the doctor said, adding that the nature of proposals would help them decide if they would rope in one agency for the project or more.
On manpower, which is a perennial hurdle for projects in the state, the rural health mission functionary said the agency or agencies selected would hire the same.
"They will run, operate and maintain the digital dispensaries for a period of five years," he added.