NIMHANS launches tele-neurology services, neuro epidemiological study to tackle neurological diseases

NIMHANS and the Department of Health and Family Welfare launched tele-neurology services and Neuro Epidemiological Study in Karnataka, to improve accessibility to neurological care
Photo of  Neurobiology Research Centre (NIMHANS) | Pic: Sourced
Photo of Neurobiology Research Centre (NIMHANS) | Pic: Sourced

India's burden of neurological diseases is escalating. Neurological disorders, like stroke, dementia, epilepsy, headache and head injuries contribute considerably to disability and stroke, are considered as the second most common cause of death. Prevention, early diagnosis along with accessible specialised treatment, can significantly reduce the burden of neurological disorders in the community.

In a first, on March 7, the National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) and the Department of Health and Family Welfare, launched two important initiatives in neurology — Neuro Epidemiological Study In Gowribidanur - II (NEPSIG) survey at Gowribidanur, and tele-neurology services to understand and enhance services for neurological disorders in the community. Both these programmes are being jointly implemented by the Karnataka Brain Health Initiative (KaBHI), NIMHANS, and the Department of Health & Family Welfare stated a report by The New Indian Express.

The tele-neurology programme at Chikkaballapur has been launched to, "facilitate delivery of neurological services to patients remotely, and to improve accessibility to neurological care," said Professor & Head, Department of Neurology, NIMHANS, Suvarna Alladi. "Services will be extended to the rest of the state in the next three months," she added.

By leveraging existing infrastructure, tele-neurology services will be provided at health and wellness centres, Primary Health Centres (PHCs) and Brain Health Clinics (BHCs). "Tele-neurology services will go a long way in leveraging existing infrastructure at PHCs and also enable training of healthcare staff at various levels," tweeted Minister of Health and Family Welfare and Medical Education, Dr K Sudhakar, as reported by The New Indian Express.

"The services will enable patients to have early specialist care with relative ease and reduce the overall cost," said Deputy Director, Mental Health, Dr Rajini.

All about KaBHI KaBHI was launched last year jointly by NIMHANS, under the guidance of Director, Pratima Murthy; the state government under Dr Sudhakar and in consultation with NITI Aayog to promote brain health in the community from PHCs to secondary level district hospitals and NIMHANS at the tertiary level.

The pilot project of KaBHI was announced in the state budget by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai in 2022, and in 2023, he declared statewide implementation of the project.

"Brain health is a critical aspect of overall health. Diseases affecting the brain are the single most important cause of disability and second biggest cause of death in the world," said Dr Pratima Murthy. IIIT Bengaluru has developed an IT platform to help digitise KaBHI and facilitate monitoring, referral and efficient delivery of care.

Speaking about the NEPSIG II survey, Prof Girish N Rao, epidemiology, Centre for Public Health, NIMHANS, said that the first Indian neuro-epidemiological NEPSIG-I was undertaken in 1987 by then professor, Neurology, and director of NIMHANS, Gourie Devi and team, who had adopted the WHO-recommended questionnaire which was subsequently validated by neurologists from NIMHANS, stated a report by The New Indian Express.

"More than three decades have passed since this landmark Indian study. Since then, the population of Gowribidanur has almost tripled and literacy rates have doubled. To understand how neurological diseases have changed over the years, we aim to undertake NEPSIG-II," said Rao.

"The objective of the survey is to estimate the prevalence of various neurological disorders, discover patterns and distribution, and burden faced by individual households. The survey will help us develop services that will cater to the needs of the local population," said Assistant Prof, Neurology, NIMHANS, Dr Vishwanath.

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