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Doctors on Call hotline launched nationally amid outbreak

Picture: Pixabay

Picture: Pixabay

Published Apr 9, 2020

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Durban - IN RESPONSE to the global Covid-19 pandemic a national medical support hotline has been launched to assist South Africans, as the number of confirmed cases in the country passes the 1700 infected mark.

Supported by Nedbank, the KwaZulu-Natal Doctors Healthcare Coalition (KZNDHC), Usizo Advisory Solutions and Vula have championed an urgent private sector response from primary health-care doctors to provide a "Doctors on Call" hotline to all South Africans. Callers pay the normal cost of a call but don't pay to talk to the doctor.

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More than 450 medical doctors across the country have voluntarily committed their professional time and expertise to the initiative.

“Defeating this epidemic will require unprecedented support from all stakeholders, both public and private. This support demonstrates good corporate citizenship and contributes towards protecting our employees, customers and the sustainability of business in our country,” said Professor Morgan Chetty, head of the KZNDHC and member of a task team working with the government to co-ordinate a response to the pandemic.

“Support for this programme could help flatten the curve, save our health system from being overwhelmed, protect our economy and ultimately save lives,” said project leader Dr Anuschka Coovadia.

Doctors on Call offers a Covid-19 medical helpline to provide support and immediate advice to concerned callers. It operates on weekdays from 8am until 5pm.

“Administered by a call centre, all phone calls are received by a trained call centre agent, screened and then routed for a telephonic consultation with a doctor, for advice related to Covid-19. This is a small step towards a big mission,” said Coovadia.

She said the doctors had been trained according to the national health guidelines standard operating processes and would provide advice according to the NICD regulations.

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Nedbank acknowledged that this was a time of heightened anxiety for all South Africans. They said they were committed to using their money and expertise to do good by supporting relief measures and endorsing steps to ease the burden on society.

“This initiative will provide all South Africans, and the most vulnerable communities who don't necessarily have easy access to a doctor, with the ability to engage with a doctor to initially assess their symptoms, without having to visit clinics or health-care facilities anticipated to experience severe pressure. We welcome this initiative as it can help limit and contain the spread of this highly infectious virus,” said Craig Evans, Nedbank Southern Division divisional executive, retail business banking.

All calls are documented and reported using the Vula app designed by Dr William Mapham. Referrals are made to the NICD for testing and results are captured on the Vula app.

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This data collection is vital in tracking the spread of the virus and particular outbreak areas. All data collection is done in line with the National Institute for Communicable Diseases' (NICD) requirements. All Covid-19-related data will be stored by the NICD after the pandemic is over and studied to look for patterns that may assist if a similar event happens in the future.

When to call:

If you have symptoms of coronavirus.

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If you have a travel history and feel you might have been exposed.

If you have been in contact via any other means.

If you need additional information about coronavirus.

Doctors on Call is an independent, philanthropic, doctor-led response to Covid-19. Support for this not-for-profit programme could help flatten the curve, save South Africa's health system from being overwhelmed, keep doctors at work, protect the economy and save lives.

Doctors on Call is at 0870550234.

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