13 February 2019
For the villagers of Dullu, a remote and developing municipality in the Dailekh District of Nepal, access to good medical care isn’t easy.
For those lucky enough to live nearby, the town’s solitary hospital is perpetually understaffed, underfunded, and lacking in advanced medical resources.
Those who hail from the surrounding area have to walk two to three days to get there. And that’s if the weather is good. (The rainy season, and a brutal winter, can often render trails and mountainous roads impassable.)
So, in 2018, recognizing that the region — scarred from two decades of conflict — was still struggling with basic infrastructure and services, the Internet Society Nepal Chapter decided to help.
In collaboration with the Center for Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D), and funded by a grant from the Beyond the Net Programme, the Chapter launched a pilot project, ‘Effective Broadband for Health,’ to establish wireless broadband service and a telemedicine system to give Dullu’s 41,540 residents better healthcare.
After propagating the Internet signal to Dullu from Surkhet, about 110 kilometers away, the team equipped the hospital’s community healthcare system with two multiservice portable digital health kits, which store patient records and allow medical personnel to remotely perform exams, make diagnoses and track treatment.
The kits now allow the Dullu Hospital to provide remote services to ten medical outposts located throughout the region. Now, patients with minor health issues don’t have to make a multi-day trek for care.
They also enable the Dullu Hospital to send data to the medical team at the Dhulikhel Hospital 700 kilometers away in Kathmandu when they need a consultation.
In places like Nepal, where many areas remain isolated, infrastructure is weak and services are underdeveloped. Project Manager and ICT4D Executive Director Pavan Singh Shakya notes, “a community healthcare system underpinned by robust, high-speed Internet access is the only lifeline.”