Telehealth sees booming demand during pandemic

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It was a topsy-turvy time for a Mirpur woman as she found it difficult to go to doctors physically after being tested positive for COVID-10 along with all her family members.

Maliha, a resident of Mirpur in the capital Dhaka, became scary looking at the severity of the situation during the Covid -19 pandemic.

The all-engulfing Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly created utter challenges on traditional healthcare systems in the country. Consequently, people have not been able to consult doctors physically.

The grave pandemic situation has led Covid-infected Maliha to rely on telehealth that virtually brought recovery for her.

Maliha and all of her family members, including her parents, tested positive for Covid-19. Her parents were not also in a very good condition with the deadly virus worrying them all.

At such a difficult time, a doctor’s call came to her from ‘Covid-19 Telehealth Center’. With the regular health advice and follow-up treatment of the doctors of this center, everyone of Maliha’s family is now quite healthy.

Maliha’s confidence in this telehealth center created as she received such services from home. Even in Corona situation, accurate information and medical advice have helped them to recover physically and mentally.

On the other hand, health condition of ailing Vidyananda Dey was deteriorating day by day. He had fever with cough and sore throat. Later in the test of Covid-19, the result came positive. No doctor came forward to treat him, not even his personal physician. At last, he called the hotline number of ‘Covid-19 Telehealth Center’.

The doctor on duty at the center listened to his problems very seriously. He gave him the necessary medical care and advice. He has received health care from ‘Covid-19 Telehealth Center’ and has been receiving regular follow-up treatment from Covid.

In the emergency situation, around four thousand patients are taking services from the groundbreaking initiative by Access to Information (A2I) and the Department of Health. The center, which is capable of providing services to patients with Covid, has so far provided services to more than 11 lakh patients.

Talking to BSS, a senior official of the concerned department said the ‘Covid-19 Telehealth Center’ has been providing free, essential health counseling and information services to the marginalized people of the country through specialist doctors by a single phone call.

As a result, a large section of the entire population is getting free health care at home by following proper hygiene rules, he added.

Every day, he informed that based on the data obtained from the Management Information System (MIS) of the Department of Health, the Covid-19 ‘Telehealth Center’ is providing health counseling and regular follow-up services to the corona sufferers in the country.

Not only that, by calling 333 any citizen of the country can get health information services and medical advice related to Covid-19 from the center, he mentioned.

Currently, he said, there is also an opportunity to receive telemedicine services and consultations from specialist doctors on an appointment basis by registering on the www.corona.gov.bd.

The center also provides emergency medical services such as ambulance, intensive care unit search, emergency medicine supply, hospitalization assistance, he mentioned.

After the outbreak of corona in Bangladesh in March last year, A2I Covid-19, in consultation with the Department of Health, formulated the telemedicine service design to provide healthcare to positive patients.

Based on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Department of Information and Communication Technology and the Department of Health, the Covid 19 Telehealth Center started on 13 June 2020 with the technical assistance of A2I, Health Window (Synesis IT).

Dr Jahidul Islam, Narayanganj SadarUpazila Health and Family Planning Officer, took steps to provide telemedicine services to the field-level. Inspired by this, the service model was formed with the help of specialist doctors.

Speaking on the service delivery, Farhad Zahid Sheikh, Chief e-Governance Strategist of A2I and Chief Coordinator of Covid-19 Telehealth Center and Ma Telehealth Center, said “The health information officer stationed at the center collected complete health information of the patients and he then connects the patient with the doctor to provide health care and advice. After that, his regular follow-up continues.”

Department of Health (Director, MIS) Professor Mizanur Rahman said, samples of Covid are being collected daily through approved labs across the country under the supervision of the Department of Health and the information of Covid positive patients is stored in the MIS database.

The information is being sent to Covid-19 Telehealth Center every day through integration by MIS, he added, reports UNB.❐

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