A group of volunteer doctors in the Philippines is offering telemedicine services via Facebook.
The volunteer doctors from Cebu province are helping to reach out to those who cannot go out of their homes and travel to hospitals because of the enhanced community quarantine enforced amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Online doctor’s appointment
Through the program, Filipinos can book an online appointment to talk about their conditions with a doctor. They just have to go to the Facebook page “Sugbo Volunteer Doctors Online” and schedule an appointment.
The volunteer doctors are medical and surgical specialists working with different hospitals in Cebu. They chose to volunteer their time to provide non-emergency medical attention through free medical consultations.
For those who want to book an appointment, all they have to do is fill out a form that asks for some personal details about them and their chief complaint. The patients are assured that the terms and conditions governing the consultation process also provide for patient-doctor confidentiality and data privacy.
The volunteer group, however, advises that it is not supposed to replace physical examination and diagnostic testing. If patients observe that their symptoms are persisting or continue worsening after their telemedicine consultation, they are advised to proceed to the nearest hospital.
The duration of the telemedicine services will only last until the end of the enhanced community quarantine in the Cebu province.
Are there other similar efforts in place?
On March 31, the University of the Philippines Manila – Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) also launched its own telemedicine hotline, in partnership with a private telecommunications company.
The same hotline can also be a channel for hospitals to accept donations such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies.
Enhanced quarantine in Cebu province
Since March 30, Cebu province has been placed under an enhanced community quarantine protocol. This means that only businesses providing essential goods and services are allowed to operate until the duration of the quarantine.
It also restricts the movement of residents to only allowing them to buy essential goods. This will minimize the likelihood of the virus spreading to more communities and infecting more people. Public transport was also suspended, only allowing private vehicles to roam around for necessary travels around the province.
In a bid to fight the spread of COVID-19, many cities in the Philippines have also implemented enhanced community quarantine protocols. The restrictions on local movement comes along with the ban on all incoming international flights and sea travels.
As of this writing, the Philippines has recorded 3,660 positive COVID-19 cases, with 163 deaths.