Telehealth key to provide low cost health services: Alvi

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President Alvi Kashmir
Zubair Qureshi

President Dr Arif Alvi has said that telehealth powered by digital and Artificial Intelligence based technologies is key to develop online pharmacies and labs, chatbots and online telephonic help to provide counselling, advise and diagnosis to the masses in the most cost-effective and hassle-free manner, especially to the unprivileged population in the underserved areas.

The president expressed these views while addressing Pakistan’s 2nd Digital Health National Conference Wednesday. The conference was attended by health professionals, IT experts, Doctors, scholars and others.

The president said that Pakistan was facing a number of challenges in the health sector, which included lack of medical professionals, poor infrastructure, high cost of health services, and lack of medical facilities in the rural areas, besides insufficient allocation of funds in the health and education sectors.

He said that these problems faced by the nation could be significantly handled by bringing in Artificial Intelligence driven telehealth and digital health initiatives which would augment our health system without incurring substantial cost by providing health services through virtual hospitals, clinics, diagnostics and promoting preventive mode of treatment which will substantially reduce the burden of diseases in the country.

The president said that the incidence of Hepatitis in Pakistan was 9pc of the total population, which made up around 20 million people whereas in Egypt, the percentage of hepatitis prevalence was 12 to 13pc of the total population and it spent 3 to 4 billion US dollars to counter this deadly disease.

He said that Pakistan being a poor country could not completely provide curative treatment but should focus on preventive measures of treatment.

He said that Pakistan handled COVID-19 pandemic in a much better manner compared to many countries of the world by creating awareness regarding preventive methods and persistently conveying messages through all media of communication.

This best practice should also be copied to counter Hepatitis in country by creating awareness about the use of sterilized equipment and syringes, destroying the used syringes and promoting healthy lifestyle in the masses.