Volunteering doctors with American Association of Physicians of Indian-Origin (AAPI) and non-profit Sewa International's medical wing, 'Doctors for Sewa' are holding private consultations with potential coronavirus patients through the eGlobalDoctors online platform, according to a statement on Monday.
Two major Indian diaspora organisations in the US have partnered with an online telehealth platform to provide free medical advice for COVID-patients in India where a second wave of the coronavirus has left the country’s public health system severely strained.
Volunteering doctors with American Association of Physicians of Indian-Origin (AAPI) and non-profit Sewa International’s medical wing, ‘Doctors for Sewa’ are holding private consultations with potential coronavirus patients through the eGlobalDoctors online platform, according to a statement on Monday.
Chairman and Co-founder of eGlobalDoctors Dr Sreeni Gangasani said over 100 volunteer physicians from AAPI and ‘Doctors for Sewa’ have been registered on the platform in the past ten days.
In that time, the website has been visited more than 100,000 times, at least 2,000 patients have filled out the COVID-19 registration form, and 500 patients have already received medical counselling, Gangasani said.
A back-end team of more than 200 volunteers based in the US and India are working following up with individuals who filled out the online form but failed to show up for their scheduled consultation.
‘Sewa’ volunteers have been instrumental in facilitating these one-on-one sessions, matching patients to doctors who speak the same language and placing them in a private breakout consultation room.
“The Sewa team is helping connect volunteer physicians and patients by phone, especially those who do not have video access or capabilities of smart phones or 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,” said Gangasani. “Indeed, patients have been logging in from all across India — Jammu to Kolkata to Tamil Nadu,” he said.
AAPI President-elect Dr Anupama Gotimukala said teleconsultations began in Whatsapp groups and Zoom webinars before moving to the eGlobalDoctors platform, where over 1,000 patients are being counselled daily.
Gotimukala said, “Doctors must guide patients daily for a week to ten days. In the system, a patient is registered and then they can offer timings and meet with the same physician on multiple dates, allowing us to follow-up with close care.
“The goal of telehealth is to treat patients remotely, using technology to help us. Doctors and patients can be at home, rendering services very efficiently. In some cases, an entire family can receive counselling at once,” Gotimukala said. Through online counselling, physicians offer medical advice regarding triage, prognosis, and management protocol.
Sewa International’s Dr Prasad Garimella said, “Our objective is to keep patients with mild symptoms out of the ER (emergency room) and identify those who need to go to the hospital sooner. Decreasing the burden on hospitals involves lowering panic and decreasing misinformation about the pandemic that patients might have.”
“Sewa International USA, a Houston, Texas-based nonprofit, that works in the areas of disaster recovery, education, and development launched a ‘Help India Defeat COVID-19’ campaign to ship 7,482 oxygen concentrators, 250 ventilators and other medical equipments to Indian hospitals and raised over USD 16 million through Facebook and its website.
“The highlight of the fundraising campaign included the recent USD 2.5-million pledge made by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey,” he said.
“Donations are still pouring in non-stop and we are happy that CEOs of multinational corporations and ordinary citizens of America are coming to the aid of India in this hour of need. We are thankful that they have put their trust in us to offer medical aid to India quickly, efficiently, and professionally,” said President of Sewa International Arun Kankani.
“We will do our best to help those suffering in India, and we will do as much as we can, quickly, to relieve the pressure that hospitals and care agencies are under,” said Kankani, pointing out the challenges in procuring and shipping the needed equipment and getting quick clearance on the ground in India to send the equipment to cities, towns, and villages across the country.
“There are so many generous donors that we cannot name them all, but to all of them a big thank you,” said Kankani, mentioning major donors AAPI (USD 535,000) and Dr Alok Agrawal, founder ‘Global Pragathi’ (USD 500,000). eGlobalDoctors is formed by a group of physicians and IT Professionals who grew up in the USA, UK and India.
eGlobalDoctors, in its mission statement, says that it will provide unbiased, exemplary health care at an affordable cost to all people in need via telehealth consultations.
India is in the midst of a tragic second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, with the total related deaths standing at 2,74,390 as of Monday, according to the Union Health Ministry. The total number of cases is nearing the 25-million mark.