Although skin diseases do not commonly lead to death, if untreated they can cause difficulty working, require frequent medical attention, and result in disfigurement and social isolation. In Nepal, access to dermatologists is limited especially in rural villages.
PASHA has worked with Community Health Education Services by Tele-health (CHEST), a Nepali NGO, to support capacity-building for teledermatology with the goal of helping rural villagers receive care for dermatologic ailments. This project involved developing the facilities and integrating the necessary technology so that rural patients can receive dermatology services via live video conference with medical professionals in the capital city of Kathmandu. Currently, the pilot village of Gerkhutaar in the Nuwokot district has been equipped with computer access and intranet connection, and which are both being housed by a local community facility to which patients can come and be connected with a physician once a week. PASHA has supported CHEST in re-establishing the infrastructure for teledermatology and other telehealth services in this village after the devastating earthquake in April of 2015. Part of this effort has focused on rebuilding the destroyed heath facilities in the village where patients received medical care.
This program also bolsters community engagement, as the video streaming facilities will be run and organized by local Nepali volunteers. Thus, there is no need for a medical professional or healthcare provider to serve as the middleman in the rural village, because community volunteers can be trained to use the technology and create schedules to organize patient visits. Plans for the near future include optimizing the technology and infrastructure of the facilities at the pilot village and eventually scaling the project to be expanded to villages in other districts in Nepal.