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Karnataka Doctor's Initiative to Install ECG Machines in Villages Prevented 210 Heart Attacks in Lockdown

Dr Padmanabha Kamath started the 'Cardiology at Doorstep' Initiative two years ago to provide emergency cardiology services in rural Karnataka | Image credit: CNBC TV-18

Dr Padmanabha Kamath started the 'Cardiology at Doorstep' Initiative two years ago to provide emergency cardiology services in rural Karnataka | Image credit: CNBC TV-18

Dr Padmanabha Kamath started 'Cardiology at Doorstep' initiative two years ago with the aim to bridge the gap between emergency healthcare facilities and rural patients in need.

The coronavirus pandemic has put acute stress on India’s healthcare sector. With all energies devoted to Covid-19 care and prevention, the pandemic has led to a great disruption in the reporting of cardiovascular emergencies, especially in rural India. With all energies devoted to coronavirus, patients suffering cardiac emergencies were at a much higher risk.

But not so in rural Karnataka, where a doctor’s initiative to install ECG machines in villages has been earning him praise and adulation.

Started by interventional cardiologist and professor Dr Padmanabha Kamath, the ‘Cardiology at Doorstep’ initiative was started two years ago with the aim to bridge the gap between emergency healthcare facilities and rural patients in need. As part of the initiative, Kamath and his team set up stations for ECG machines and emergency cardiology centres and various rural locations across Karnataka. The idea was to create a rural electro-cardiography network and connect doctors with potential patients and centres using WhatsApp.

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Dr Kamath, who is the head of the Cardiology Department at Kasturba Medical College in Mangaluru, came up with the initiative after a young patient of his died due to unavailability of a hospital in 2014. t

“It was as if the initiative was tailor-made for Covid-19 pandemic," Dr Kamath told CNBC-TV18, adding that because of it, ECG reporting remained “unhampered" in rural Karnataka despite the pandemic.

Even as the rest of the country was in lockdown from March till May, the group of doctors under the initiative performed over 2,000 ECGs and helped avert 210 heart attacks.

This was possible due to the vast and intricate network that the CAD initiative has managed to create. Within justtwo years, it has managed to bring 2,000 doctors on board the program and also installed ECG machines in 15 talukas across rural Karnataka.

Speaking to CNBC TV-18, Dr Kamath said that due to the lockdown, many were unable to access essential emergency services. Either the hospitals were full or too far away or doctors unavailable. The fear of catching coronavirus and Covid-19 stigma also kept patients away from hospitals. “Unlike the hospitals, these ECG centres are often located close to the patients’ homes, making them an easier and quicker alternative" Dr Kamath added.

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