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March 27, 2020

Over 100 consultants offer services to PIMA for its telemedicine project amid coronavirus outbreak

Karachi

March 27, 2020

Over 100 consultants and health specialists offered their services to the Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA) on Thursday to help deal with calls and queries of common people, who are calling on its telemedicine facility number to seek medical advice after out-patient departments (OPDs) at various public and private hospitals were closed to contain the spread of coronavirus in the country.

“Today, out a panel of consultants and experts crossed the figure of 100, who offered their services to help people in need of medical advice. An overwhelming number of phone and WhatsApp calls are being received on our helpline numbers by people who can’t go to hospitals for seeking medical help,” said Prof Dr Atif Hafeez, a senior ENT specialist and office-bearer of PIMA, while talking to The News.

PIMA had launched a free of charge telemedicine project on Tuesday to provide health and medical consultation to people at their homes, for which over 100 medical consultants have volunteered their services, while several general practitioners (GPs) have been hired by the association to provide telemedicine consultation to people in the country.

“We have launched this telemedicine service in collaboration with the Al-Khidmat Welfare Organisation to provide medical consultation to people in distress so that they could remain at their homes and seek medical advice from trained and qualified doctors,” said Dr Hafeez.

The telemedicine facility is being provided through telephone and WhatsApp calling facility initially, and for this purposes, PIMA has publicised three phone numbers on which people can call and seek medical advice from general practitioners, who would initially be available for 12 hours a day.

“For instance, if a person is having some abdominal pain, he or she can call on our helpline and a general practitioner would answer the call. If the issue with the caller is minor and manageable, the GP would prescribe the medicine and give advice; otherwise, the caller would be referred to some consultant,” Dr Hafeez said.

He added that they were receiving an overwhelming response to their telemedicine facility, and on the first day they had received hundreds of calls from sick people, as they could not go outside while the OPDs at most of the public hospitals were also closed to the public.

He said that it was a coronavirus outbreak-specific telemedicine facility and it was aimed at “keeping people at home” instead of letting them go outside for minor health issues and ailments, which could be managed through telephonic advice.

The PIMA official claimed that so far 42 consultants, including ENT specialists, pediatricians, gynecologists, general surgeons, neurologists, gastroenterologists, cardiologists, international medicine experts, eye specialists, pulmonologists, psychiatrists and diabetologists associated with PIMA, had volunteered their services for the helpline and they were expecting more doctors to offer their services to the telemedicine initiative in a day or two.

“PIMA has a network of thousands of doctors which is spread all over Pakistan and out doctors are ready to serve the ailing humanity,” Dr Hafeez added.

Praising the services of Dr Zakiuddin Ahmed, a pioneer in telemedicine in Pakistan, who has developed telemedicine portals and facilities for several healthcare facilities and hospitals in Pakistan, he said and maintained that even after the coronavirus epidemic was over, the telemedicine initiative would remain relevant and help people seek medical advice by remaining at their homes.

He further stated that in most of the cases, people needing medical advice for adjustment of their doses from a diabetologist, cardiologist or neurologist would not have to go to the clinics and big hospitals as doctors would suggest medicine on phone, which could be purchased from any pharmacy or medical store in the city.

“People in need of medical advice can call on 0315-5550911 from 9am to 1:00 pm, 0316-6660912 from 1pm to 5pm and 0317-7770913 from 5pm to 9pm to seek medical advice,” Dr Hafeez.