In order to meet the increasing demand for expert medical advice because of the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government has recently launched a telehealth portal. The service will be available for free via WhatsApp all over the country. Given the low doctor-patient and nurse-patient ratios in the country, the portal will greatly help people, especially those living in rural and remote areas, to seek proper medical treatment both from specialist and general physicians and surgeons. In Pakistan, there is one doctor for 1,200 patients and one nurse for 50 patients. The portal has been launched to reduce the burden on frontline healthcare workers caused due to the global pandemic.
Inaugurating the portal, PM Imran Khan said it would be helpful in providing treatment to Covid-19 patients living in remote areas where services of qualified physicians were not available. Quick medical advice would avoid delays in providing proper treatment to patients. Time is of essence in medical treatment. Many precious lives are lost because of lack of proper diagnosis and the resultant delay in providing treatment to patients. Now patients can get timely specialised medical advice with the help of technology and receive proper treatment. Technology will not only save lives but help the health sector in meeting the huge challenges in the wake of the pandemic.
The government expects doctors to sign up in large numbers for the telehealth service. A fairly good response is sure to come from medical specialists and all those working in the healthcare sector considering the fact that they are putting their own lives at risk to protect humanity from the deadly virus. Many doctors, nurses and paramedics have sacrificed their lives in the fight against the novel microbe. Doctors and other healthcare workers are being ably supported by those working in information technology. The government should ensure proper utilisation of the new portal. Equal attention should also be paid to preventive measures against the coronavirus.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2020.