India plans to launch a communications satellite “Healthsat” exclusively for health care so that patients and doctors in remote rural areas can consult specialists in cities, the head of the country’s space agency said recently.
Healthsat, to be launched within four years, will have wireless and terrestrial communication links, G. Madhavan Nair, chairman of the ISRO, told reporters. “Right now we will use the existing satellite transponders to serve 100 telehealth stations, including district hospitals and speciality hospitals, around the country,” Nair said. “Next year we may touch 500 such stations and in 2007 about 1,000. So within the next three to four years we will have one exclusive satellite for the purpose of telemedicine,” he said.
The space agency’s telemedicine project, in which a patient in a remote area can consult a specialist in a city through a video satellite link, was launched in 2001 and so far has treated more than 25,000 patients.