As we’ve seen in past global health crises, the expert opinions of healthcare professionals are particularly valued as we fight through COVID-19. Due to their extensive knowledge of symptoms, preventative measures, and treatment, healthcare experts—many of whom are on the frontlines treating the virus—are some of the most trusted people today. In addition to saving lives and devising solutions, they are sharing their experiences and expertise to help keep people well-informed and healthy. Some of these reputed healthcare experts have become a household name, and come from diverse backgrounds.
Here are five prominent South Asian voices you might have heard of who are sharing their struggles, advocating for social distancing, and telling us to wash our hands:
Dr. Sanjay Gupta – Chief Medical Correspondent, CNN & Associate Chief of Neurosurgery, Grady Memorial Hospital
“For now, no matter your age or underlying condition, the advice remains the same. Stay home, wash your hands and reduce your virus exposure as much as possible.”
Dr. Sanjay Gupta is an American neurosurgeon, medical reporter, and writer originally from India who is known for his many TV appearances on a variety of health issues, most recently on COVID-19. In addition to being the Associate Chief of Neurosurgery at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia where he lives. He’s also the Chief Medical Correspondent at CNN and host of the CNN show Sanjay Gupta MD which has won multiple awards. He is considered one of the most trusted sources on COVID-19 today and has interviewed health experts like Dr. Anthony S. Fauci and written articles about the impacts of the virus on youth, the need to wear face masks, and more. His CNN podcasts on topics like Analyzing Antibodies and Race and Risk have a wide reach, garnering millions of listeners from all over the world.
Dr. Nisha Mehta – Founder, Physician Side Gigs
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I was on @CNN @andersoncooper360 last night, talking about retaliation healthcare workers have been facing for challenging hospital policies and speaking to the media. The irony is, I had recorded that segment earlier this week, and actually didn’t know it was going to air last night. How did I find out it? By over 50 email or social media messages within the next hour after it aired from #healthcare workers throughout the country contacting me to tell similar stories. As I said on this @medpage Today article (https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19/85869) earlier this week, I find it very hard to justify firing anybody who is telling these stories for the right reasons. Our healthcare workers need protection – both in regards to PPE and professionally. I cannot imagine being on the #frontlines of #COVID19 facing not only the stress of what you’re seeing everyday, but also worrying about your families and your careers. Www.change.org/helpphysicians – please sign and share. #physicians #physician #nurse #nurses #doctor #doctors #covid #covid19 #residents #medstudents #meded #medstudent #fellows #healthcareworkers #coronavirus #physicianspeaker #getmeppe #ppe #strongertogether #support
“I am fairly certain that these current challenges will escalate the pace at which these changes need to occur.”
Dr. Nisha Mehta is the Founder of Physician Side Gigs, an online Facebook group that provides resources and connections to more than 56,000 verified physicians who are interested in side hustles and alternate income sources. The group’s objectives include networking, creating side gigs along with their primary medical profession, inspiring others, and getting advice. Dr. Mehta is an Indian native but is now based in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she works as a radiologist with a specialty in musculoskeletal and breast imaging. Physician Side Gigs began in 2016 and over the past month has raised awareness about several issues that physicians are facing as they battle COVID-19, including the financial struggles of small practices and shortages of personal protective equipment. As someone who’s been studying physician burnout for years, she believes that the current way of functioning is not sustainable and that systemic change is necessary to defeat the virus.
Dr. Rizwan Sohail – Professor of Medicine, Mayo Clinic
— M. Rizwan Sohail, MD (@RizwanSohailMD) April 7, 2020
“We are in the middle of a pandemic and need to make some drastic changes in how we do business in medicine.”
Dr. Rizwan Sohail is a professor and the chair of cardiovascular infectious diseases at Mayo Clinic, an American academic medical center based in Rochester, Minnesota which focuses on integrated clinical practice, education, and research. It is currently ranked as the #1 medical center in the United States, maintaining a top position for more than 27 years. Originally from Pakistan, Dr. Sohail has published more than 140 original peer-reviewed articles in major medical journals and has authored 29 book chapters. He has been using platforms like LinkedIn to share evidence-based-research and his advice about COVID-19, including how hospitals, medical boards, and insurance companies alike must ease HIPPA regulation, change billing practices, limit malpractice suits, and more. He believes that the coronavirus prevalence is higher than most people think and that the disease will have a major impact on the course of our history.
Dr. Umbereen Nehal – President, Nehal Group
— M. Rizwan Sohail, MD (@RizwanSohailMD) April 7, 2020
“The most important thing to know about COVID-19 is that, as counterproductive as it sounds, doing nothing and staying home is the way you can save lives.”
Dr. Umbereen Nehal is President and Founder of the Nehal Group, an organization that offers a selection of services and access to international healthcare experts. The organization has worked on local community-engaged health promotion and research for the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, designed IT platforms, and offered strategic advising for international healthcare companies. Dr. Nehal is a Medical Affairs physician executive, healthcare strategist, and coach based in New York but originally from Pakistan. As a former chair of the nationwide campaign The Task Force of American Muslims for Affordable Health Care that was conducted with the White House under President Barack Obama, Dr. Nehal has stressed the importance of listening to government recommendations for social distancing. She says that physical distancing doesn’t necessarily mean isolation, implying that people should simply take precautions when they go outside.
Dr. Kiran C. Patel – Entrepreneur and Philanthropist
“I feel that it is more important than ever to advance the current state of health care.”
Dr. Kiran C. Patel is an American-Indian cardiologist, businessman and philanthropist based in Florida who has given more than $240 million to numerous causes and organizations, including to open the Dr. Kiran C. Patel Center for Global Solutions in 2005, a solutions-oriented research center based at the University of South Florida. He and his wife Pallavi Patel also started the Dr. Kiran C. and Pallavi Patel Family Foundation to donate funds for education, health, and cultural programming. Although Dr. Patel himself has not commented or shared information on the coronavirus outbreak, his namesake hospitals and colleges—including the Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine at Nova Southeastern University—have been hard at work treating those suffering from the disease and have been featured in various news reports about patient treatment and recovery.
With increased access to the Internet and social media channels, there is an influx of information from various sources, which can sometimes lead to misinformation. As a result, medical professionals and influential healthcare leaders hold a unique position of trust as they are able to back up their recommendations with evidence-based research and data, putting people of other professions at a disadvantage. There is also evidence that people usually hold the opinions of those who are of the same cultural, religious, and ethnic background in higher regard, and South-Asians are no different. However, everyone’s advice remains the same: Stay indoors and take care of your health.