Indian doctors abroad help their country fight COVID-19


  • In the United States, Indian doctors make up 20% of all foreign-trained doctors.
  • With the situation worsening in their home country, doctors are finding it difficult to get on planes and help due to issues such as infrastructure shortages.
  • However, the technology means that they are able to conduct online consultations with people in India in order to take the burden off the workforce.

As India is ravaged by a crippling wave of Covid-19, members of the Indian diaspora are struggling to find ways to help. One group among them is particularly in distress: the doctors.

Doctors are one of India’s most prized exports, especially to the United States where they constitute 20% of all internationally educated students doctors. Together, Indians and Indo-American physicians constitute the most represented non-white group in the medical profession.

As the situation in their home country – or ancestral land – continues to worsen, Indian doctors in the United States find themselves in a situation where they have the skills to help, but are unable to. make. “It bothers me a lot because I think ‘I trained to be a doctor and I’m away now,” says Ramya Pinnamaneni, a physician from New Delhi, India, a researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Pinnameni says she was about to buy a ticket to India when, after talking to her teammates here in the United States – many of whom are also Indian or of Indian descent – she realized she was not. wouldn’t be able to do much. there because of the infrastructure shortages.

Instead, she and her team are focusing on ways to help from a distance. One is through their research at the Viswanath Lab at Harvard, which aims to make medical communication accessible to the pockets of society which are generally alienated from it.

For this crisis, the laboratory is developing a toolbox that demystifies misinformation linked to Covid-19, its treatment, means of preventing it and the vaccine. The toolkit, which is available online but is being printed to reach a wider audience, already available in English and Hindi, is being translated into other Indian languages ​​and disseminated nationwide with assistance from the Indian Ministry of Women and Child Development, as well as development organizations in the field.

Among the information included in the toolkit are guidelines on whether to seek immediate medical attention for Covid-19 patients, in order to avoid unnecessary emergencies in the hospital.

Online consultation of international doctors

Sreeni Gangasani is a Hyderabad cardiologist working in Atlanta, Georgia. He and four of his high school classmates, all doctors in the US, UK and India, had worked on the establishment eGlobalDoctors, a telehealth practice that would offer consultations to Indians seeking a second opinion from specialists, when India was hit by its second Covid-19 wave.

After organizing a fundraiser with the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, who raised more than $ 2 million to purchase an oxygen concentrator and cylinders to ship to India, Gangasani and her team turned their remote healthcare practice into a volunteer effort to provide medical advice to patients. of Covid-19 in India.

With a shortage of doctors and panic over the coronavirus taking hold, Gangasani says, many patients find themselves in a situation where they test positive and are unsure whether to go to the hospital or just treat their symptoms. at home. For them, obtaining medical advice, even from a distance, is essential. Most doctors with eGlobalDoctors provide consultations outside India and therefore cannot write prescriptions, but most of their work is helping people assess the severity of their symptoms and review treatments, and providing non-pharmacological advice .

Medical volunteers through telehealth

The service is advertised through social media groups and now relies on more than 120 volunteers across multiple time zones in the US and UK, to provide coverage for long periods of the day in India.

“Sunday at 4 p.m., I sent my first Whatsapp message [about the service], and at 8:30 am, I had 30 patients, ”says Gangasani.

While the majority of the doctors who volunteer to help with eGlobalDoctors are of Indian descent, many are not and have joined the effort, although they may face language barriers. So far, Gangasani says, around 60% of tours are in English and the rest in other Indian languages.

Since not all doctors are specialized in the treatment of Covid-19, a training session is offered to volunteers before they start their shift. “It’s a very rewarding experience to see these people,” says Gangasani.

The first global pandemic in more than 100 years, COVID-19 has spread around the world at an unprecedented rate. At the time of writing, 4.5 million cases have been confirmed and more than 300,000 people have died from the virus.

As countries seek to recover, some of the longer-term economic, trade, environmental, societal and technological challenges and opportunities are just starting to become visible.

To help all stakeholders – communities, governments, businesses and individuals understand the emerging risks and follow-up effects generated by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Marsh and McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group , launched his COVID-19 Risk Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and Its Implications – a companion for decision-makers, drawing on the Forum’s annual report on global risks.

The report finds that the economic impact of COVID-19 dominates business risk perception.

Companies are invited to join the work of the Forum to help manage the identified emerging risks of COVID-19 across all sectors to shape a better future. Read the whole COVID-19 Risk Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and Its Implications Report Here, and our impact story with further information.

A similar effort is being led by MDtok, a telehealth portal focused on providing second opinions. The platform launched a charitable offering Relief from Covid-19, and has listed a wide selection of Indian and Indo-American doctors offering free appointments for Covid-19 patients in India.

Meanwhile, from India, doctors suggest temporary Licence foreign doctors, in order to allow them to also write prescriptions if necessary. However, this would force the Ministry of Health to recognize the shortage of doctors, which it has been reluctant to do, next to deny an oxygen shortage, to protect its international reputation and reject accusations that the crisis is out of control.

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