By: Lungile Ngubelanga

UKZN alumnus, Dr Anuschka Coovadia spearheaded a national medical support hotline: Doctors on Call to assist South Africans as the number of COVID-19 cases spiked.

Four hundred and fifty doctors provided free healthcare services to more than 40 000 people and ran an awareness campaign on COVID-19 which reached over 10 million.

This joint initiative by the KwaZulu-Natal Doctors Healthcare Coalition, Usizo Advisory Solutions and learning system app Vula involved a call centre helpline, and support for the rollout of a free testing programme.

Coovadia who graduated with an MBChB in 2000 and a Masters in Health Economics in 2004 said the doctors were trained in line with national guidelines, clinical protocols and standard operating processes. They adhered to guidelines set by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in providing advice.

She also worked with Vula to co-ordinate referrals to COVID ICUs, the COVID field hospitals, run free testing programmes, provide a free referral channel to public sector doctors; liaise with the NICD leadership and undertake data collection for the NICD.

Coovadia offered advice to companies and community-based organisations, and was involved in setting up a network to provide free mental healthcare services and training to healthcare workers on the diagnosis and management of COVID-19 as well as free testing in vulnerable communities.

In addition to her work relating to COVID-19, Coovadia is supporting the implementation of national health insurance in Zambia, a vaccine initiative in Botswana; and the development of a strategy for the Board of Healthcare Funders; and developing a health quality tool for emerging countries for the International Finance Corporation.

She said that she is committed to strengthening the healthcare system in South Africa in order to alleviate suffering, by creating a modern, affordable, high quality healthcare system, and reducing inequality.