Stepping Up In The Time Of A Global Pandemic
While the world grapples with an unprecedented enemy, Dr. Ibrar Mustafa a Student at the TRP, launched a telehealth portal. It not only connects the world’s best doctors to patients who lack proper healthcare infrastructure but also supplies PPE and food to the needy.
The COVID-19 pandemic has quickly become the most pressing public health emergency across the globe. There are millions of confirmed cases with the number rapidly rising. Anxiety and uncertainty cast a wide net while some of us pivoted in response to the landscape and found opportunities in challenges.
Groups sprung up almost immediately across countries in support of their communities. While Canada has universal healthcare infrastructure, lower and middle-income countries are disproportionately burdened due to weaker health care infrastructure and the lack of resources. Our student, Dr. Ibrar Mustafa, realized that his home country, Pakistan, had gaping healthcare gaps. He leveraged his expertise and everything he learned at the TRP to provide aid in tackling the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Pakistan has a lack of access to basic health care services, poverty, lack of health infrastructure. In addition to this, lockdowns in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, have affected the lives of some of the most vulnerable communities across the country, such as migrant laborers, skilled workers, single mothers, and daily wage earners, who are likely to be unemployed for an unforeseen period due to the pandemic.
Ibrar saw a pressing need and started working on people-centric solutions. Along with a handful of his acquaintances, he launched an online telehealth portal called DoctRing, the first of its kind in Pakistan. This portal allows patients pro bono virtual consultations from the best healthcare practitioners affiliated to DoctRing. It is a perfect platform for millions of people. It provides help in evaluating health problems, choosing the right health professional, booking appointments, and schedule screenings or testing, receiving medications, storing digital health records, and exploring better ways to live healthily.
Ibrar believes that access to healthcare is a right for every individual, and DoctRing Tele medicare bridges the gap between health professionals and patients. It provides remote and fast access to state-of-the-art healthcare systems and services by maintaining a strong patient-physician relationship without compromising the quality of care. His team believes in building a healthy community regardless of the distance or geographical boundaries and is committed to meet the healthcare needs of global citizens anywhere, any time.
With the novel Coronavirus raging in Pakistan, Ibrar’s DoctRing team promptly lend their services to support the government by providing personal protective equipment to the frontline workers. They shunted their marketing budget and provided 1500+ PPE Kits, 4000+ masks, and 2500+ sanitizers to Health Professionals, Police, and Rescue teams across the country. Additionally, they installed four disinfectant spray walkthrough doors at quarantine centres and public offices. Over 20 pharmacies are on board their initiative and are providing all DoctoRing members discounts on their medical supplies.
Ibrar, being a physician and researcher himself, understands the importance of convalescent plasma for vaccine and drug development. Convalescent plasma is collected from the blood of someone who has recovered from a virus. When a person is infected with a virus, their body starts mounting an immune response against the virus resulting in the production of antibodies. These virus-specific antibodies are particularly essential in the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. DoctRing collects and donates convalescent plasma to further COVID-19 research and management efforts.
To spread awareness about the novel coronavirus, his team has been designing graphics in two languages, English and Urdu. These have received a phenomenal response on their social media channels. Furthermore, Ibrar ensured that grassroots level difficulties were also addressed. During their informal interviews about the needs of the people, their team discovered that access to food was a major problem for daily wage workers owing to the lockdowns. Since the start of the pandemic, DoctRing has distributed over 2000 ration bags containing essential food to families who were at the brink of starvation.
Delivering PPE kits and ration bags under the lockdown landscape was challenging. Their team stepped up and forged a collaboration with Cheetay, a well-known logistics and courier company in Pakistan. Collaboration is the key to running any successful venture, and this rings truer in the current scenario where philanthropy has risen as a clear winner. Workers from healthcare have been tirelessly and altruistically fighting COVID. To ensure that these uncrowned heroes aren’t fighting on an empty stomach, DoctRing collaborated with Subway to help deliver healthy sandwiches to those on the frontline.
DoctRing has garnered well-deserved recognition with numerous local news channels and print media houses approaching their team for interviews. Ibrar’s team is working to develop a mobile app to help provide continued healthcare. This application is slated to launch in a few weeks from now. It would allow users to connect with the best doctors from Pakistan and around the world for free consultations. It would be especially useful in areas where specialists aren’t available.
Ibrar’s telehealth portal was a dream he wouldn’t have realized if not for the TRP. While others failed to see the potential of this initiative, Joseph Ferenbok, TRP Director, wholly supported Ibrar. “The TRP doesn’t kill your idea, they nurture it,” said Ibrar when asked about how this impactful and arduous journey came to be. He credits the program, it’s mentors, and unique thinking to the success of DoctRing, “The TRP is the reason I pulled this off. If not for Joseph, the TRP framework, and thinking, I’d still be sleeping on this initiative.” When asked about why he believes in philanthropy to such an extent, he laughed and said, “If people are happy, I am happy. I don’t need fame or money. All I need is to know that I was able to do something meaningful with my life.”