09 March 2016 Current Affairs: A total of five healthcare ATMs have come up in four states Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh under a Health Ministry pilot that combines telemedicine with a rudimentary free drugs programme. The ministry is hoping these would tide over the massive shortage of doctors in the country and also the risks of pilferage that free drugs programmes are fraught with.Each ATM will be manned by a multipurpose public health worker (MPHW) or an auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM) armed with a multi-parameter patient vital monitor and other devices required for checking basic health parameters.After the patient has been registered, these indicators would be transmitted to a medical call centre through a GSM-based monitor.For starters, basic health parameters such as temperature, blood pressure, blood glucose and blood haemoglobin will be checked and the data instantly transmitted.At the call centre, doctors will evaluate the condition of the patient — and if necessary talk to him or her — and decide whether the person needs to be referred to a centre where a doctor is available or whether can be treated locally with medications.In the latter case, a prescription will be generated and a command given automatically to the ATM to dispense only the drug prescribed, and no other.The MPHW will explain the dosage to the patient. And in case urgent referral is required, the 108 ambulance service will be made available at the sub-centre.India currently has 0.51 doctors per 1,000 population, half the 1:1,000 ratio recommended by World Health Organization. Rural India’s ratio is 0.63 per 10,000.
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