Turning Crisis Into Opportunity: A Successful Tele-Medicine Intervention In Meghalaya

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Sampath Kumar, Commissioner and Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare, came up with the idea of implementing telemedicine and teleconsultation service to ease access to healthcare for people requiring medical attention.

Meghalaya   |   30 May 2020 11:11 AM GMT / Updated : 2020-07-03T16:07:35+05:30
Writer : Shweta Raj Kanwar | Creatives : Nandan M
Turning Crisis Into Opportunity: A Successful Tele-Medicine Intervention In Meghalaya

Within a month of launching the telemedicine facility in Meghalaya, the State has successfully been able to conduct a dental surgery with the guidance of a doctor in the United States through the telemedicine facility at Jengjal in West Garo Hills District.

A middle-aged lady in Jengal, West Garo Hills, suffered from a condition where she needed urgent teeth extraction due to pus draining from between her lower teeth. She suffered swelling over her jaw and chin for a week accompanied by severe pain. Her condition could worsen into a life-threatening condition called Ludwigs Angina if left untreated. With COVID-19 and the risk of aerosol transmission, all dental procedures had come to a standstill in many parts of the state thereby limiting emergency services. The dentist at the Hospital was also unavailable at the given point of time.

But this did not prove to be a hindrance to the will of the doctors at the Garo Hills Adventist Mission Hospital, who were determined to give the patient the required medical attention. The Telemedicine facility which was launched on April 29th, 2020 by Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, which was the brainchild of Commissioner and Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Sampath Kumar, IAS proved to be a boon in these trying times.

A Facial Maxilla Surgeon in the United States, who was known to one of the doctors was contacted by the state medical personnel from the health facility and the surgeon willingly offered his assistance. The team came together and started a step-by-step procedure with the help of a live camera and through the assistance of the surgeon in US, they were able to follow instructions and were able to give nerve blocks, drain the pus and extract 3 teeth. The patient is doing good now and has been discharged.

Speaking to this media house, the Commissioner and Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Sampath Kumar, who is the man behind this initiative said, "COVID-19 pandemic has created a lot of challenges to the State's health care system and there is a need to find out solutions to overcome them. COVID-19 is proving to be a hindrance to people seeking institutional healthcare. We wanted to use technology for easing access to healthcare for people requiring medical attention and hence, we came up with the idea of implementing Telemedicine and tele consultation service. With regards to this, we encouraged all hospitals, including PHCs and CHCs in the State to begin this service in their own way- through mobile phone consultations, internet, etc. Many parts of East Khasi District is also using the Telemedicine service for providing health care service and West Garo Hills has also begun to implement it. Likewise, we are trying to put this system in place in all Districts. The aim is to not neglect essential health care services while catering to Covid-19 cases in the State and it is encouraging to see such success stories from remote areas of the State."

It may be mentioned that Meghalaya is following a three-pronged strategy for tackling the COVID-19 pandemic namely - tracking the transmission chain, strengthening health care systems and building capacity of community. The initiation of Telemedicine and Teleconsultation services is part of the second strategy and is a decentralised leadership model aimed at bringing about a positive change in the health-seeking behaviour of people, especially during these trying times.

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Shweta Raj Kanwar

Shweta Raj Kanwar


Shweta Raj Kanwar is a Media & Communications officer working with the Government of Meghalaya. She is currently engaged in documentation of COVID-19 activities in the State.

Nandan M

Nandan M

Trainee Creative Producer

Creative designer Skilled in Photography, Graphics, Typography, Animation, and Editing. Strong arts and design professional with a diploma focused on adobe suit.

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