DR REYAZ AHMAD GANAIE
I would like to make a few suggestions on how to use internet technology in the fight against coronavirus. The first and foremost would be for the government of India to have an online registration portal, run by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and supported by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, to facilitate outdoor patients to get online appointments in both government and private hospitals across India. This will help patients avoid long queues and rush in hospitals. In J&K, four hospitals are currently registered on the government’s web portal: GB Pant Hospital, SMHS, District Hospital Bandipora, and Government Hospital Gandhi Nagar, Jammu. However, all the departments of the above hospitals are not registered on the web portal. Awareness should be spread through print and electronic media to make use of online appointments.
Apart from hospitals, all banks should be asked to provide mobile banking and net banking to customers to enable 24×7 service. As the new coronavirus pandemic sweeps the globe and people stay put in their homes, it makes sense that much of the conversation about coronavirus is taking place online. People are using the internet to share information, air their anxieties, and bide time while in quarantine. As a precautionary measure, people can avoid going to the market and instead do online shopping.
All such measures are not possible without internet facility. Kashmir has witnessed continuous internet shutdowns in the past and especially after August 5 last year. The restoration of high-speed mobile internet will go in a long way in easing the situation, not only for home-confined students but for the business community and professionals as well. The tourism sector has also taken a big hit in absence of high-speed mobile internet. Restoration of high-speed internet has become the imperative to contain coronavirus.
High-speed internet is also a valuable component of emergency preparedness. The internet has been used in networking to make available resources and connect local governments with state emergency operations centres. The task requires preparation and planning of how critical information is handled before, during, and after an emergency situation. The internet and social media is not a threat but a way to create public opinion and provide feedback to the masses as well as to the government. Social media can be a reliable source for accurate, on-the-spot information from people inside of an emergency situation. “There is no harm in hoping for the best as long as you are prepared for the worst.” (Stephen King).
—Dr Ganaie has done PhD from Pondicherry Central University
DR REYAZ AHMAD GANAIE