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BSF launches countrywide tele-medicine network for troops

BSF night patrol at border

New Delhi: The country’s largest border guarding force BSF has launched an ambitious satellite-based tele-medicine programme to address medical and health-related problems of its troops deployed in far-flung frontier areas and difficult regions in the hinterland.

The tele-medicine or ‘e-medicine’ facility will be operated and hosted from the Kadamtala-based composite hospital of the force in Siliguri in West Bengal.

The 100-bed hospital centre in the eastern flank of the country, which will have a full-time team of doctors, would have links through satellite phones and the VSAT platform to connect the posts of the Border Security Force (BSF) along the Indo-Pak and Indo-Bangla frontiers that it guards.

“The initiative will come as a big boost to the medical setup of the force. The programme is aimed to connect far-flung border posts and other locations of the force in direct contact with our medical experts,” BSF Director General D K Pathak told here.

The force chief said the men and women of the about 2.5-lakh personnel strong force are not always able to get in touch with a doctor or medical care facility in case of an emergency or illness due to the sheer arduous nature of their deployment.

“Our border posts either have a VSAT-linked communication gadget or a satellite phone and the troops can just punch the buttons to get in touch with the medical team which will work almost round-the-clock from the Kadamtala hospital. The said hospital has been equipped with the required technology to host the programme. The project has been launched keeping in mind the challenges we were facing on the medical front owing to our large spread across the country,” Pathak said.

Officials said such a medical system was the need of the hour in the BSF as the troops deployed in border areas have to not only face the vagaries of the nature and climate but also counter diseases like malaria and flu quite often.

They said it is impossible for them to keep a doctor or medical attendant in each border post of the force and hence it was decided to link these posts through communication gadgets and links that are available with the troops which are deployed in a variety of operational theatres ranging from the hot deserts of Rajasthan to the icy heights in Jammu and Kashmir and riverine and dense jungle borders in West Bengal and North Eastern states.

The tele-medicine link also envisages to train few personnel in each of the border posts in basic skills of administering first aid to a colleague, a lesson also taught to troops during their training days.

The anti-Naxal operations units of the BSF in Chhattisgarh and Odisha will also be linked with the same facility, the DG said.

The programme will be made fully operational within this year as the paramilitary is celebrating the 50th year of its Raising in 2015.

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