Afghanistan’s telemedicine’s project has been launched in Kabul in June 2007 by the telecommunications company Roshan in partnership with the French Medical Institute for Children and Cisco. Starting with teleradiology, the objective of this project is to provide hospitals real-time access to specialist healthcare from abroad. Indeed, the lack of medical personnel and in particular of specialists is a crucial issue in this war-torn country that many of them have escaped. Images taken from ultrasound and CAT scanners (Computerized Axial Tomography) are transferred from one hospital to another thanks to mobile satellite broadband technology and the use of SDH microwave.
Roshan committed itself to invest 1.5 million dollars in this telemedicine project through its CSR arm. The project has however been designed to become self-sufficient after three years and a half.
The choice of developing telemedicine appeared to be a very relevant solution in a country where the lack of medical personnel and in particular of specialists is a crucial issue. Indeed, in this country ravaged by more than 30 years on war, an important share of the medical personnel has left, while the health needs are still huge. Besides, logistics issues are also barriers preventing most Afghans to access quality care.
The telemedicine project was an initial success in Kabul, because it reduced the workload in the hospital in Kabul, and improved the quality of the care provided. In June 2009, more than 340 patients had benefited from teleradiology, and more than 231 Afghan medical personnel had participated in the project. The technologies deployed were also used for training nurses and midwives, and all it all, a lot of potentially interesting uses appeared. After two years of implementation in Kabul, the telemedicine project was seen as a model for addressing healthcare delivery shortcomings in developing countries where access to medical diagnosis, treatment and training is limited.
The project engaged into a nationwide scaling up process in 2009 when, the hospital of the Bamyan Province was connected to the hospital of Kabul.