Volunteer doctors from the US-based American Association of Physicians of Indian-Origin and Hindu faith-based group Sewa International have been offering teleconsultations and medical advice to COVID-19 patients in India via the eGlobalDoctors platform.
WHAT THEY DO
Over 100 volunteer physicians from both AAPI and Sewa International have joined its platform, according to eGlobalDoctors Chairman Dr Sreeni Gangasani. The healthcare website, which registered at least 2,000 COVID-19 patients, has been visited more than 100,000 times since the start of May. About 500 patients have already received medical counselling.
Sewa International’s team of volunteers is helping to match patients to doctors who speak the same language and placing them into virtual consultation rooms. They are also helping to connect patients who do not have video access and access to the internet.
“Sewa’s work on the ground is streamlining the process by reaching the people who are most in need – even those from smaller, rural areas,” Dr Gangasani said.
The free teleconsultations began on WhatsApp groups and Zoom webinars before moving to the eGlobalDoctors platform, where over a thousand patients are being attended to each day, according to Dr Anupama Gotimukala, president-elect of AAPI.
WHY THIS MATTERS
India is currently facing an overwhelming second wave of COVID-19 infections which started in April. In that month, it logged 300,000 cases each day in a week.
As of late, the country recorded more than 25 million infections, the second-highest globally, and over 275,000 deaths. So far, about 3% or about 182 million of India’s 1.36 billion population has been fully vaccinated, according to data from Our World In Data.
Based on the analysis of India’s policy think tank NITI Aayog, the country is lacking medical equipment, such as test kits, PPE, masks and ventilators. There is also an ongoing shortage of emergency healthcare infrastructure and professionals: there is only one attending physician for every 1,445 patients, 0.7 beds for every 1,000 people and 40,000 ventilators for its whole population.
“Our objective is to keep patients with mild symptoms out of the ER and identify those who need to go to the hospital sooner,” said Dr Prasad Garimella of Sewa International. The group is also helping lessen hospital burden by minimising panic and dispelling misinformation about the pandemic.
THE LARGER TREND
This month, Google, in partnership with India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, launched a search tool to locate testing centres, hospital resources and vaccination sites around the country. The company also said it is trying out a new feature that allows people to share available hospital beds and medical oxygen.
Fellow tech company Facebook has also partnered with the Indian government to help launch a vaccine finder tool.