Doctors on call, WhatsApp in Kashmir

Numbers shared on social media for patients to reach out for advice from home

Hundreds of doctors in the Kashmir Valley on Friday volunteered to post their contact numbers on social media platforms to hold free online consultations for patients in order to control footfalls and mingling in hospitals and private clinics in view of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Dr. Salim Khan, Professor and Head of the Department of Community Medicine at Srinagar’s Government Medical College, initiated the process, especially at tertiary care medical facilities like the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital.

“We requested all hospitals and clinics to voluntarily share their contact numbers on social media so that patients can call them from their homes without venturing out. It will help a great deal in containing the spread of COVID-19 as hospitals are the most vulnerable spaces otherwise,” said Dr. Khan.

There was a fast response to his call, with doctors volunteering contacts and setting up WhatsApp groups to attend to medical emergencies. The positive effect was visible as the Karanagar area of Srinagar, a hub of private clinics, saw negligible patient footfalls on Friday.

Swift response

“I attended to over 50 calls from patients on Friday. Since I know the medical history of many, I was able to prescribe drugs and attend to even severe cases. This has indeed helped to reduce patient flow to my private clinic as well as the hospital significantly,” said Dr. Arshad Hussain, Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Government Medical College.

The Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK), a body of Valley-based doctors, made public the numbers of 21 doctors.

“People suffering from general ailments can limit visiting hospitals as doctors have volunteered online consultations on WhatsApp groups as well as on telephone...,” DAK president Dr. Suhail Naik said, adding, “This approach is going to decrease the large cohort of people visiting hospitals and is a successful method to contain the spread of COVID-19.”

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