An initiative to check child mortality in hospitals

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LAHORE: In response to the pressing need for accessible and high-quality emergency healthcare for children in Pakistan, an organisation has introduced an innovative telemedicine network in district and tehsil hospitals of Punjab, providing critical consultations to children in remote areas.

The initiative aims to address the alarming child mortality rates in the country, with 1,000 children losing their lives daily due to various illnesses.

The experts say with two-thirds of Pakistan’s population residing in rural areas, many families face significant challenges in accessing specialised medical care for their children.

They say financial constraints, logistical difficulties, and the sheer distance to major cities often deter families from seeking timely medical attention.

On average, families must spend Rs50,000 to travel to tertiary care hospitals in major cities, worsening the burden on already vulnerable households.

Recognising these challenges, the Child Life Foundation has pioneered a provider-to-provider telemedicine model, deploying high-definition cameras, IP phones, and registered nurses at telemedicine sites across Punjab.

Through this innovative approach, children in remote areas receive consultations from FCPS Peads emergency specialists stationed at the control room in Lahore.

In 60 per cent of cases, these consultations result in value-added interventions, including training for on-ground government doctors on the latest medical protocols and interventions.

`This telemedicine initiative is a game changer for children in remote areas who previously lacked access to timely and quality emergency care,` stated Dr. Ahson Rabbani, CEO at Child Life Foundation.

`By leveraging technology, we are bringing critical medical expertise directly to the doorstep of those who need it most, saving lives and alleviating the burden on families,` he said.

In Punjab alone, 90 telemedicine sites are currently operational, providing consultations to children with critical illnesses.

Additionally, Child Life Foundation manages 13 children’s emergency rooms under public-private partnerships with the government, spanning across Sindh, Balochistan, Islamabad, and Mayo Hospital and Children’s Hospital in Lahore and Multan, respectively. These emergency rooms are equipped with state-of-the-art infrastructure, latest life-saving equipment, and a fully stocked pharmacy with a 45-day supply of essential medicines.

He said the holistic approach of the organisation is encompassing a scalable and cost effective model operating in 313 hospitals nationwide in partnership with the government. With emergency rooms in tertiary care hospitals and Telemedicine Satellite Centres in secondary care hospitals, the foundation aims to provide free-of-cost treatment to two million children this year, ensuring that every child has access to lifesaving medical care, regardless of their geographic location or financial circumstances.

Acknowledgement: Published in Dawn News on 19th April 2024.
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