A survey conducted by the Aga Khan University reports that nearly 80 intensive care units (ICUs) across Pakistan were able to obtain beds and ventilators during the pandemic. Despite the efforts, many ICUs continue to face critical shortages of life support equipment's as well as a lack of trained healthcare staff. Moreover, with the surge in COVID-192 cases, the personnel and infrastructure capacity of ICUs have become overly stretched.
To address this challenge, AKU, with the support of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Dawood Hercules Corporation Ltd initiated the Tele ICU project that aimed at building public sector hospital's capacity for the effective management and treatment of critically ill patients admitted to Highly Dependent Units and ICUs.
To provide support to ICU/HDU physicians, a Tele-ICU consultation service was established that enabled doctors all over Pakistan treating patients in ICUs and HDUs to receive 24/7 free-of-cost consultations from AKU consultants. To date, the initiative has undertaken more than 6000 teleconsultations for almost 1960 patients in a number of healthcare institutes across Pakistan.
Initially, the center focused on offering teleconsultations exclusively to physicians treating critically ill COVID-19 patients. Subsequently, the scope expanded to include physicians attending to ICU/HDU patients, as well as those caring for pediatric and neonatal cases.
Supporting ICU/HDU physicians in the management of their patients and carrying our pledge to enhance the capacity of the healthcare sector of the country, the centre also introduced free-of-cost online and in-person trainings through which 26,000+ healthcare workers have been trained till date.
The initiative is being conducted in collaboration with the Government of Pakistan, Government of Sindh, Punjab, KPK, and the Health Services Academy on behalf of the Federal Health Ministry.