Telemedicine has now become a lifeline for general patients as most of the hospitals are still reluctant to provide treatment to them.
Like Mohammad Afsar Ali, a resident of Jatrabari, numerous patients have been benefitted amid the pandemic across the country. As Afsar war suffering from cold, he consulted a medicine specialist for free via a video call, received advice from the specialist and recovered from the sickness.
“I made a phone call using IMO (video call app) when the doctor prescribed me some medicine. I had no idea before that how a doctor can consult a patient over phone. This is amazing”, Afsar Ali said.
In a regular media briefing on Thursday, Additional Director General of the Department of Health Professor Nasima Sultana said that 1 lakh 90 thousand 599 phone callers received telemedicine services in the last 24 hours. These calls’ tally derived from 333, SasthyoBatayon 16263 and helpline numbers from the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR).
According to the corona.gov.bd website, nearly 500 expert physicians have been serving patients through telemedicine.
Public health experts highlighted that telemedicine has emerged as the most effective service for the treatment of general patients during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Public Health expert Ahmed Hussain said, “Telemedicine is not a new concept in health services. Fear of infection is the major obstacle between the doctors and the patients during the ongoing pandemic. General patients do not want to go to the hospitals or doctors’ chambers considering them places of high risk for virus infection. But anyway they need treatment.”
“On the other hand, due to the lack of suitable environment and appropriate personal protective equipment, the doctors think that they should not come in direct contact with the patients. However, they also want to continue medical services.”
In the past, people used to take various advices on the telephone from well known doctors. Since the introduction of mobile phones, people have started getting advice on diseases as well as prescriptions in text messages, Hussain added.
He further said that with the improvement of medical technology and information technology, doctors and patients are taking advantage of it. But it was an alternative arrangement for so long. Telemedicine has become the mainstay of more people during the pamdemic.
General Secretary of Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA) Dr. Md. Ehteshamul Haque Chowdhury said they have started providing online healthcare in most of the district branches of the country.
“In most of the district branches, we have started providing health services through mobile phones, Facebook, webpages, online apps and Skype, he said.
However, there is no national guideline on telemedicine services. So there is a risk of defective treatment in this case.
The Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council (BMDC) formulates and implements such rules and regulations in the country. BMDC president and convener of the National Technical Advisory Committee on Coronation professor Mohammad Sahidullah told media, ‘The work of formulating the rules is in the final stage. It will be published on the website in 10–12 days.”
If any organization or individual wants to provide telemedicine services, he has to get the approval of BMDC, he also mentioned.