Rashid Paul

Lack of high-speed mobile Internet thwarting fight against COVID-19: Health experts

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‘Keeping Kashmir under communication bar in these testing times is worst insensitivity’

Srinagar: The government ban on high speed mobile Internet here is preventing medical experts in Kashmir to combat the COVID-19 and other serious health issues confronting the population.

As the coronavirus is secretly spreading its deadly tentacles in Kashmir, medicos in the Valley are finding it difficult to combat the challenge which has claimed thousands of lives across the world.

“For established diseases like cholera, diabetes or tuberculosis, the doctors know by conviction and experience how to handle them. But COVID-19 is a totally new phenomenon. Research on it is just happening and new information is flowing in every moment,” said Dr Abdul Hamid Zargar, former Director SKIMS, and a leading endocrinologist from Kashmir.

But Kashmir however is an outlier. “The benefit of this research and information on this fatal disease cannot be translated to a common man in Kashmir as the access to the fastest means of communication is restricted,” said Dr Zargar.

The 4th generation cellular data use had been closed in Kashmir since 4th of August 2019, a day before special status of Jammu and Kashmir was scrapped, and the place brought it under the Centre’s direct control.

Reminding of his latest web telecast on the relation between COVID-19 (coronavirus) and diabetes, Dr Zargar said that he was unable to substantiate facts in absence of the visuals as he could not upload them because of the low speed mobile Internet in Kashmir.

Another doctor, who has also headed the highest tertiary-care hospital in Kashmir (SKIMS), said that restriction on faster communication technologies makes it difficult to combat the challenges thrown by corona pandemic.

The expert wishing not to be named said that low speed mobile Internet is tiresome and waste of energy of the Kashmiri medicos in these times of crisis.

He said that his private clinic has almost 60,000 patients in and outside Kashmir under his follow-up.  “Every moment while I am with the patients, I try to access internet for drug dosages, drug interactions and its safety. But the 2G internet speed frustrates…” he said.

“Although the doctors generally have an idea of safety but pharmoco therapy is essential.  A doctor can’t rely merely on books. Medical research has surpassed the concepts of time and space,” he added.

In these times of crisis when Federal Agency of America has circumvented many of its regulatory mechanisms for usage of antiviral drugs to save life, keeping Kashmir under a communication bar seems worst insensitivity, the expert added.

The situation is more difficult in rural Kashmir where outdoor patient-care is overcrowded and overburdened even in these extraordinary times. “4G mobile speed can help ease things as patients can communicate with us without physically visiting the hospital,” said Dr Bilal-ur-Rahman, a gynecologist at Government District Hospital, Kulgam.

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