IN response to the global viral pandemic – Covid-19, a national medical support hotline has been launched to assist South Africans, as the number of confirmed cases in the country passes the 10 000 infected mark.Supported by Nedbank, the KwaZulu-Natal Doctors Healthcare Coalition (KZNDHC), Usizo Advisory Solutions and Vula, have championed an urgent private sector response from primary health care doctors to provide a ‘Doctors on Call’ hotline to all South Africans. Callers pay the normal cost of a call but do not pay to talk to the doctor.More than 450 medical doctors, across the country, have voluntarily committed their professional time and expertise to the initiative.“Defeating this epidemic will require unprecedented support from all stakeholders in South Africa, both public and private. This support demonstrates good corporate citizenship and contributes towards protecting our employees, customers and the sustainability of business, in our country.” Says Professor Morgan Chetty, head of the KZNDHC and member of a task team, which is working with the government to coordinate a response to the pandemic. “Support for this program could help flatten the curve, save our health system from being overwhelmed, protect our economy and ultimately save lives,” says project leader Dr Anuschka Coovadia.Doctors on Call offers a Covid-19 medical helpline, established to provide support and immediate advice to concerned callers. The service operates on weekdays from 8am until 5pm and is manned by a dedicated unit of doctors. “Administered by a call centre, all phone calls are received by a trained call centre agent, screened and then routed for a telephonic consultation with a doctor, for advice related to Covid-19. This is indeed a small step towards a big mission” explained Coovadia.She said the doctors have been trained according to the national health guidelines standard operating processes and provide advice according to the NICD regulations.Nedbank acknowledges that this is a time of heightened anxiety for all South Africans. As a bank we are committed to using our money and expertise to do good by supporting relief measures and endorsing steps to ease the burden on society. “This initiative will provide all South Africans and the most vulnerable communities who do not necessarily have easy access to a doctor, with the ability to engage with a doctor to initially assess their symptoms without having to visit clinics or healthcare facilities anticipated to experience severe pressure. We welcome this initiative as it can help limit and contain the spread of this highly infectious virus,” says Craig Evans, Nedbank Southern Division, Divisional Executive, Retail Business Banking. All calls are documented and reported using the Vula app, designed by Dr William Mapham. Referrals are made to the NICD for testing and results are captured on the Vula app. This data collection is vital in tracking both spread of virus and outbreak areas. All data collection is done in line with the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NICD) requirements. All Covid related data will be stored by the NICD after the pandemic is over and studied to look for patterns that may assist if a similar event happens in the future.WHEN TO CALL:• You have symptoms of Coronavirus• You have travel history and feel you might be exposed• Been in contact via any other means• To get additional information about CoronavirusDoctors on Call is an independent, philanthropic, doctor-led response to Covid-19. Your support for this not-for-profit program could help flatten the curve, save our health system from being overwhelmed, keep our doctors at work, protect our economy and save lives.Doctors on Call can be contacted on 087 0550 234.-Supplied.