As fear grows among people over the fast transmission of deadly coronavirus and taking treatment going to a doctor or hospital has become riskier for all kinds of patients, including the covid-19 ones, telemedicine services have appeared as a solution amid the pandemic crisis.
The infrastructure for telemedicine services is being developed in the country amid the outbreak of novel coronavirus pandemic as different government and non-government institutions and voluntary groups have come up with healthcare services through virtual platforms, said experts.
In the current situation caused by the Covid-19 outbreak, a large number of people are availing of the healthcare services through different virtual platforms like telephone, mobile phone, facebook page and web pages, online apps and skype in the country, they said.
“A strong infrastructure for virtual healthcare services is being built in the country which will have positive impact in the public health sector in future even after the period of Covid-19,” said Dr Iqbal Arslan, President of Swadhinata Chikitsak Parishad (Swachip).
He said Swachip together with Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA) started telemedicine services through 500 mobile phone numbers of physicians round the clock.
Now many people are receiving healthcare services through virtual platforms, he said mentioning that there are designated hotline numbers in every medical college and designated mobile phone numbers in all health complexes to render telemedicine services across the country.
Alongside the hotline of Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), the Swachip president suggested people to make phone calls to other institutions to receive healthcare services.
Dr Iqbal Arslan, however, asked people to refrain from making unnecessary phone calls to the physicians and the contract numbers in the critical situation.
The BMA has started providing online healthcare services in most of its district branches in the country, said its secretary general Dr Md Ehteshamul Huq Choudhury.
“In most of its district branches, we’ve started providing health services through mobile phone, facebook, webpage, online apps and skype,” he said adding that many groups of physicians are rendering services through mobile phone initially and they will suggest the patients to go online, if needed.
Dr Ehteshamul Huq said the BMA will start a short-training programme for physicians over Covid-19. Already, 400 physicians have showed interest to join this training programme, he said.
Dr Abu Sayeed Shimul, a consultant at Mugda Medical College, said they along with a group of physicians, opened a facebook page ‘Child Corona Awareness-Bangladesh’ to support parents through online for the treatment of their children.
He said some 13,000 members have so far joined their page and they provide services to some 300-400 people daily. “We, 105 physicians, provide prescriptions through written question-answer initially on this facebook page and if necessary, we go for video call to examine the condition of the patients,” he said.
Dr Shimul said they also launched a web application ‘Covid Test for BD’ on March 24, through which some 70,000 people have so far received medical services.
Civil Surgeon of Cumilla Dr Md Mojibur Rahman said many patients are receiving telemedicine services instead of going to physicians in person in the district.
He said there are 10 mobile phone numbers dedicated by BMP, 10 other mobile numbers by the society of gynecologists, five contact numbers by Cumilla medical college, several mobile numbers by the society of surgeons and one by Cumilla Sadar Hospital to provide telemedicine services in the districts.
He said they also receive phone call from even outside Cumilla through these contact numbers to get the services.
Besides, a volunteer group of physicians formed ‘Doctors for Covid-19 Solutions Bangladesh’ platform in the country to provide advice and suggestions to patients through telephones.
The main job of the platform is to provide expert suggestions to both Covid or non-Covid patients to help them get admitted to hospitals if needed, said General Secretary of Doctors for Covid-19 Solution Dr Md Saifullah at the daily health bulletin broadcast of the Directorate General of Health Services.
BSMMU has recently launched telemedicine services through hotline. People will be able to get advice from specialists through the hotline number -09611677777.