Virtual Psychiatric Clinic Treats Over 1000 Afghan Patients from Pakistan

A virtual psychiatric clinic in Peshawar, Pakistan, has treated over 1000 Afghan patients online, achieving a 40% follow-up rate despite cross-border healthcare challenges. The clinic provides online counseling, therapy, and medication, and has also trained local staff in psychological counseling and therapies.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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Virtual Psychiatric Clinic Treats Over 1000 Afghan Patients from Pakistan

Virtual Psychiatric Clinic Treats Over 1000 Afghan Patients from Pakistan

A virtual psychiatric clinic launched in Peshawar, Pakistan, in 2021 has successfully treated over 1000 patients from Afghanistan, providing a lifeline for those struggling with mental health issues in the war-torn country. The clinic, run by the Horizon nonprofit organization, offers online counseling, therapy, and medication to Afghan patients, achieving a remarkable 40% follow-up rate despite the challenges of cross-border healthcare.

Why this matters: The success of this virtual clinic demonstrates the potential of telemedicine to address healthcare disparities in conflict-affected regions, where access to mental health services is often limited. This innovative approach could be replicated in other regions, improving the lives of millions of people struggling with mental health issues.

The clinic was established on November 14, 2021, as a collaborative effort between the World Psychiatric Association (WPA), Pakistan Psychiatric Society, Horizon Peshawar, and the Fountain House, Lahore. Its primary goal is to address the severe shortage of mental health experts and facilities in Afghanistan, a country that has endured over four decades of conflict and instability.

Prof. Dr. Khalid Mufti, chairman of the Horizon nonprofit organization, highlighted the clinic's achievements, stating, "We have followed up as many as 40 percent of patients." This impressive follow-up rate is a testament to the clinic's commitment to providing continuous care and support to its patients, even in the face of limited funding and logistical challenges.

The virtual clinic operates by selecting patients from the state-run hospital in Khost, Afghanistan, who then attend online examinations every Tuesday. Prof. Dr. Khalid Mufti and his team provide online consultations, prescribing medications that are sent to the patients through proper channels. The clinic has also observed a high prevalence of comorbidity among Afghan patients, with many suffering from mental health illnesses alongside other diseases.

In addition to providing direct patient care, the clinic has taken steps to build local capacity by training staff at the Khost Hospital in psychological counseling and therapies. Naqibullah Masoom, the focal person of the Online Clinic at Khost Public Health Department, emphasized the importance of these skills, stating, "Psychological counseling techniques are as important as medicines. I have acquired various skills during my stay here. I am returning to my homeland better equipped to deal with patients."

The success of the virtual psychiatric clinic in treating Afghan patients from Pakistan highlights the potential of telemedicine to bridge gaps in healthcare access, particularly in regions affected by conflict and instability. As Naqibullah Masoom noted, "The online clinic has proved to be a success as several patients had been treated through the facility." With its innovative approach and dedicated team, the clinic continues to make a significant impact on the mental health of Afghans, offering hope and support in challenging times.

Key Takeaways

  • VIRTUAL PSYCHIATRIC CLINIC: 1000+ Afghan patients treated from Pakistan.
  • 40% FOLLOW-UP RATE: Despite cross-border challenges, patients receive continuous care.
  • TELEMEDICINE SUCCESS: Clinic bridges healthcare gaps in conflict-affected regions.
  • LOCAL CAPACITY BUILDING: Staff trained in psychological counseling and therapies.
  • INNOVATIVE APPROACH: Clinic offers hope and support for Afghans' mental health.