Emphasizing the need for using technology in the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes in Pakistan, Vice Chancellor Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) Prof. Saeed Quraishy Saturday said that besides challenges, COVID-19 pandemic has provided an excellent opportunity to maximize the use of telemedicine in reaching out to patients, who are still undiagnosed but suffering due to lifestyle diseases and conditions like diabetes mellitus.
“Prevalence of diabetes in Pakistan is said to be 17.1 percent which means that there are around 19 to 20 million living with diabetes.
Unfortunately, a vast majority of them are undiagnosed and living in rural and far flung areas of the country.
The only way to approach these undiagnosed diabetics is use of technology, especially telemedicine”, Prof. Saeed Quraishy said while inaugurating the first E-Tibb Telemedicine clinic at DUHS Ojha campus.
The E-Tibb Telemedicine clinic has been established at the National Institute of Diabetes and Endocrinology (NIDE) in collaboration with local pharmaceutical firm Pharmevo, which has provided the technological services, computing hardware and mobile phone application as well as other resources to the Dow University to reach out to millions of diabetics in Sindh, Balochistan and other parts of the country, who cannot travel to Karachi on regular basis to consult experts and physicians.
Prof. Saeed Quraishy maintained that there are so many undiagnosed patients of diabetes in the country that often surgeons including him have to postpone surgeries after it emerges that blood sugar level of the patients is as high as 500 mg/dL. “Our country is facing an epidemic of diabetes and there is a need to control it by using all the means and resources we have at our disposal including technology”, he added.
“But there is a need to educate patients about use of technology for their benefits. A large number of people are using modern cell phones with internet facility but they need to learnt about using it for their benefits, especially in diagnosis and treatment of diseases”, he said, adding that media should highlight the importance of technology in health, and well-being of people.
Lauding the inauguration of E-Tibb telemedicine facility at the National Institute of Diabetes and Endocrinology (NIDE), Prof. Saeed Quraishy said it is the first clinic of its kind in the country that would benefit thousands of diabetic patients who would be consulting expert physicians through their cellphones and added that Dow University would soon resume telemedicine clinics at other departments of the varsity.
Director NIDE Prof. Akhtar Ali Baloch said in its initial days, COVID-19 pandemic had created immense hardships for people living with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) especially diabetes as patients could not approach health facilities and see their consultants but now with the help of telemedicine, they could talk to consultant diabetologists while sitting at their homes and get advised on managing their blood sugar levels with the help of medicines and lifestyle modification.
“E-Tibb is the first telemedicine clinic of its kind for patients of diabetes which would benefit hundreds of thousands of patients in Sindh, Balochistan and other parts of the country as now they would not have to travel to Karachi for diabetes consultation”, Prof. Akhtar Ali Baloch said, adding that doctors and consultants would give at least half an hour to each patient through telemedicine to properly educate and satisfy them.
He maintained that patients from rural areas of Sindh and far flung cities and towns of Balochistan had to spend thousands of rupees to reach Karachi, stay at hotels and spend money on consultation, medicine and travel back to their homes but now with the help of telemedicine, they could get treatment at their doorsteps.
“The network of Dow Diagnostic Services is spread all over the country and once a patient provides his samples at of the Dow Lab, his results would be to consulting physician who would advise the patient about medicines, their doses and other modifications.
This would provide to be a great service to diabetes patients in Pakistan”, he added. Mansoor Khan, Director Commercial of the local pharmaceutical firm Pharmevo said they have provided the most sophisticated and modern equipment and software to the Dow University free of charge to help the patients and added that they would continue cooperating with the institutions like DUHS in serving the ailing humanity.
Pro-Vice Chancellor DUHS Dr. Zarnaz Wahid, Manager Digital Pharmevo Umair Mughal, Director Marketing Mohsin Sheraz, senior professors, doctors and staff of the varsity also attended the ceremony.