A British Pakistani orthopaedic surgeon has started a free of charge telemedicine corona helpline to help in controlling the spread of Coronavirus in Pakistan.
Dr Suhail Chughtai said in an interview that he designed “telemedicine based corona helpline” to give opportunity to people to take free medical advice on corona like symptoms to reduce the need to go out where they can either catch a virus or spread it.
Dr Chughtai presented the idea at a press conference at the inauguration of “Pakistan Society of Internal Medicine” Annual Conference in Lahore last month which was widely welcomed and endorsed by Prof Dr Javed Akram, Vice-Chancellor University of Health Sciences, Lahore.
Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar inaugurated the helpline and since then he has been instrumental in leading the widening of the service deployment around the province in various universities. Dr Chughtai gave a presentation on corona helpline to President Arif Alvi via video link.
People can visit link on their phone or laptops and then click on the Online-Doctor shown as a blinking icon. After typing name and city, they are connected to the doctor over live video link with average time ranging from 5-15 seconds.
The service is no burden to the patients as advice is offered free of charge. According to the website, for any shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing noticed by the doctor, guidelines are followed to arrange an ambulance by calling 1122 on behalf of the patient after knowing their address.
Dr Chughtai informed that we have a growing list of medical universities of Punjab joining the telemedicine corona helpline with 170 doctors trained and included in the 24/7 schedule in shift pattern which can be four to eight hours long at present. Over 1,000 young doctors have registered expression of interest and at present. I am training ‘master trainers’ who would engage with the most suitable applicants for extending our team.
The most prominent medical universities include the University of Health Sciences (the nerve and command centre of the project), King Edward Medical University, Nishtar Medical University, PIMS Islamabad, Rawalpindi Medical University and more. We have now been asked to extend the service to other provinces too for which governor and CM of Punjab are working with the federal authorities and prime minister’s team to help with the logistics.
Dr Chughtai said that doctors from APPNA and APPSUK which are two largest organizations of Pakistani doctors in USA and UK hall be participating through their young doctors to offer free advice on corona suspected symptoms.
He said that in a short time the corona helpline has produced good results as those who called have been given medical advice at home via a video-tele consultation.
He told that combined number of tele consultations and telephone calls on the helpline has crossed over 40,000 since 19th March, when the governor Punjab inaugurated the service.