16 May 2006 – The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with four specialty hospitals to further expand its telemedicine network on May 16. The four specialty hospitals are Manipal Hospital, Bangalore; Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi; Madras Diabetic Research Foundation, Chennai and Dr Venkatrao Dawle Medical Foundation, Ambajogai (Maharashtra).
ISRO’s satellite based Telemedicine network, which started in 2001 on an experimental basis, is aimed at linking remote/rural district hospitals with super-speciality hospitals in major cities via INSAT. While ISRO provides the software, hardware and communication equipment as well as satellite bandwidth, the speciality hospitals provide the infrastructure, manpower and maintain the system. ISRO’s telemedicine network has matured into an operational system and now covers 165 hospitals – 132 remote/rural/district hospitals/health centres connected to 33 speciality hospitals located in major cities.
Speaking on the occasion, G Madhavan Nair, Chairman, ISRO, said that ISRO’s telemedicine programme is an example of societal orientation of Indian space programme. He also highlighted the efforts made by ISRO in establishing Village Resource Centres (VRC) which are being set up in association with NGOs, trusts and state and central agencies. He emphasised the need to integrate telemedicine also in these VRCs along with space enabled information related to natural resources, tele-education, farmers’ advisory services, tele-fishery, etc.