Hundreds of patients across the country are receiving free treatment through Facebook pages and mobile apps
When doctors at the Covid-19 dedicated hospitals are having a hard time dealing with the huge number of patients, many doctors are providing free treatments throughout the day through mobile apps, Facebook messenger, video call and telephone.
Thousands of patients in the country are seeking help from these online medical services when they find it difficult to get treatment at any other institution.
Facebook groups like "Emergency Covid19 Management by FDSB", "Best Aid" and "Desperately Seeking Doctors" and a mobile app named "Ask Doctor" have become popular and helped hundreds of patients.
Ehsanul Karim, a businessman in Chattogram, developed symptoms of the novel coronavirus on May 4. He contacted the doctors at the Emergency COVID19 Management by FDSB page on Facebook.
Within half an hour, a doctor active in the group told him to test for the novel coronavirus and sent him a prescription in his inbox for the time being.
When two days later Ehsanul tested positive for Covid-19, he again contacted the Emergency COVID19 Management by FDSB. This time a doctor from the group gave him detailed advice and a prescription through a video call.
After doctors from the group followed up on Ehsanul's case for fourteen consecutive days, he tested for the virus again and the result was found negative.
Ehsanul told The Business Standard, "Doctors from the page contacted me four times a day. Now I'm completely cured."
"After I recovered, I advised around a dozen of people to take help for the novel coronavirus infection through this page. All of them were cured," he added.
Aside from joining the group to get treatment, anybody can receive medical services from it by calling 27 numbers provided on the Female Dental Surgery of Bangladesh (FDSB) page.
Mehzabin Faria, a resident of Bashabo, sought help from the doctors on this Facebook page when she contracted the virus.
She said doctors from the group responded whenever she called during the day or night.
"They not only gave me medical advice, but also mental support in recovering from the disease," said Mehzabin.
Since the setting up of the Emergency Covid-19 Management by FDSB in April, a team of more than 50 members led by Dr Faria Tabassum Tanni has provided online medical services to around 500 patients till July 4. "E-doctor", a group of specialist doctors, is also working with them.
Dr Faria, a dental surgeon at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, said "Specialist doctors are giving advice through this group. We have also helped patients who needed to get admitted into hospital."
"We arranged ambulances for some patients and contacted hospital authorities to assist the patients in getting admission," she added.
Dr Faria opined that the whole country can be brought under such online medical services if the government came forward with help.
Dr Jasmin Jahan Palashi, a moderator of the Emergency COVID19 Management by FDSB page, said none of their patients died as they received proper treatment on time. When some patients needed emergency medical help, the group helped them to get that emergency treatment.
Another app named "Ask Doctor," on which around 100 doctors are working for free, went to the Google top chart of health and fitness category in Bangladesh within a week of its launching on March 26.
Around 100 people have been receiving treatment round the clock through this app every day.
The medical adviser of the app, Dr Muhibur Rahman, said the team were running this app to help the government. People from all walks of life can use this app.
Another organization, "Best Aid", is also providing free online medical service through its Facebook page.
Fifteen junior and 17 senior doctors are responding to people sending messages relating to different illnesses.
In addition, doctors at Best Aid call the patients who suffer from some serious illnesses. Doctors at the platform take special care of Covid-19 patients.
Mir Hasib Mahmud, chief executive officer of Best Aid, said, "We have provided treatment to more than 500 patients."
Anybody can receive Best Aid's free medical online services by calling 01533443118 or contacting the www.facebook.com/bestaidbd/ page.
A Facebook group named "Desperately Seeking Doctors" has also been treating patients through the social network for a long time now. Its doctors give advice on any disease when some patients send photos of their medical reports to the page.
Alongside these groups or apps many doctors are giving health tips on the social network. One of such doctors is Dr Jahangir Kabir, a specialist in family medicine, diabetes, asthma and respiratory diseases.
His posts about recovering from Covid-19 by adopting a healthy diet have become immensely popular on Facebook and Youtube.
Dr Muzaherul Huq, former regional advisor for South Asia, WHO, told The Business Standard that the Covid-19 situation has become complicated all over the world.
He said, "Many countries across the world do not have enough hospitals to treat the huge number Covid-19 patients. Thus online medical services and telemedicine are becoming important."
Dr Muzaherul Huq praised the doctors in Bangladesh who have taken such initiatives. But he cautiously added that the government should supervise such online or telemedicine services as there were already some complaints of fraud in the guise of providing such services.
Additional Director General of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) Prof Dr Nasima Sultana told the Business Standard that the DGHS is taking an initiative to provide guidelines for doctors who are voluntarily providing online medical services.
She said, "Anyone can give health advice to Covid-19 patients by taking an online course of the DGHS or by following appropriate procedure."