Making the connection
Telemedicine can change the lives of children and adolescents who live with HIV by making health care more accessible to rural communities. In India, video conferencing is helping to provide specialized care.
Telemedicine can change the lives of children and adolescents who live with HIV by making health care more accessible to rural communities.
In India, for example, the HIV Pediatric Telemedicine Initiative has been providing specialized care through video conferencing, thanks to the Government of India, with the support of MAC AIDS Fund and UNICEF.
Piloted across the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka, the initiative provided approximately 950 telemedicine sessions between 2013-2015. Over 4,000 HIV positive mothers were tracked in Karnataka alone through the enhanced mother-child tracking system (e-MCTS) to improve child survival and maternal health outcomes. In addition, an estimated 1,000 health providers and outreach staff were trained on the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and pediatric HIV treatment and care, including early infant diagnosis.1
“UNICEF is very proud to be associated with this initiative, reaching out to the most disadvantaged children in the most remote areas of the state,” says Rajeshwari Chandrasekar of UNICEF Maharashtra.2
While the Government of India is committed to achieving the elimination of new HIV infections in children and keeping their mothers alive, there have been a number of barriers to delivering specialized pediatric HIV treatment and care to all those who need it.
Through the telemedicine initiative, many families with children living with HIV in India now have improved access to expert pediatric HIV care.
Looking forward, two assessments are underway and the results, as well as lessons learnt during the pilot phase, will assist in the scaling up of Pediatric HIV Telemedicine both across India and worldwide.