Long Distance Wi-Fi for Tele-Medicine in Rural areas
March 17, 2015

Author: Sara Muneeb

Health is one major problem in developing country like Pakistan when there is only one doctor per 1000 people. Poor health in Pakistan like lack of hospitals, lack of proper checkup facilities, lack of expert doctors at every hospital, lack of medicine there is one major factor for all of this is small expenditure spent on health as of 2011 it was 2.51% of GDP (WHO). Beside all, in urban areas there are comparatively more health facilities than in rural areas where no expert doctors are available in case of emergency. This ratio highly varied from private hospitals to government hospitals.

To cater this problem Tele-Medicine was introduced so that people at far away distance can connect to experts in urban hospitals for consultancy and guidance and Tele-Checkup.

Telemedicine uses Information Technology to help medical professionals diagnose and treat patients who are at a geographically different location. By transmitting live or stored data, voice and video, these solutions allow people to interact and share information as freely and naturally as if they were there. This transfer of medical data utilizes a variety of telecommunication technologies (http://www.usf.org.pk/project.aspx?pid=14).

One such Tele-medicine center is set by local NGO “Kawish” in Lahore, Pakistan using Hub and Spoke model. Hub is established in Gulab-Dewi hospital Lahore and Spoke is in Bahawalnagar. Conversation between doctor at Hub and patients at Spoke is done using Skype video call. Other instruments are attached to enhance the quality of video like high definition webcam and external microphone so that doctor can better see if patients have any problem like ENT or skin disease. For current set up Dr. Waqas sits two hours daily as a volunteer at Hub (Gublab-dewi hospital) and patients at Spoke (Bahawalnagar) come and consult doctor for disease and problem for which, before this setup they had to go to urban doctors and hospitals spending their time and money. In most of the cases they do not have expenditure to travel from rural area to urban doctor. Plus there is also external help available at rural centers like B.P checkup, injections, dispenser at Spoke and a store of medicine build also by “Kawish”.

“Kawish” wanted to build another center at a medical center 15-20 KM away from Vahari at Karampur. A group of students from Information Technology University was dedicated for this project (I was member of that group) to provide a solution which should be low cost, replicable, easy to deploy and should made up of components that are available in local market. Other requirements included easy troubleshooting and management of hardware as well as software since end users were going to be fairly non-technical. Solution was provided using Ubiquity Nano-Bridge M5 antennas. Some issues were faced in deployment of long distance WI-FI

  • Gauged pole height/diameter
  • Alignment and direction of poles
  • Required accessories/components availability.

 

Initially this project was done for a nonprofit organization however, this project can be used by any other organization looking to connect remote areas to a central hub not limited to telemedicine but other areas like remote education etc.