Dr. Om Murti Anil, National Cardiac Centre, Senior Cardiologist
Dr Om Murti Anil is probably the most-preferred as well as the busiest cardiologist in Nepal. This clearly brings him the opportunity to use most of his time to make money - something most other renowned surgeons in the country are seen doing.
But Dr Anil is an exception. He uses, as a kind of a rule, one-third of his time to raise awareness on heart diseases, another one third to attend to his patients and the remaining one-third to sleep. Yes, he works for almost 16 hours a day! But the cardiologist with a humble heart says, "I sleep for eight hours and work for eight hours a day. I devote the time that is left to make people aware about heart diseases."
When he started working as a cardiac specialist after completing his studies from All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, Dr Anil learnt that most heart patients lacked basic awareness about heart diseases. He also realized that many of the deaths linked to heart diseases could be prevented if people knew and followed basic health tips well in advance. “This made me think of doing something about making people aware about heart diseases,” he says.
Studies have suggested that more than 75 percent deaths in low-income countries are caused due to cardiovascular diseases and that some 86 percent of untimely deaths in countries like Nepal are caused due to non-communicable diseases.
All this made Dr Anil think that raising awareness was something that must be done with a sense of urgency. In 2011, he started making use of Facebook to reach out as many people as possible and raise awareness among the Nepalis living both at home and abroad. He also published a popular book, Ma Pani Doctor, to inform people about the basics of health-related diseases, and distributed over 5,000 copies for free.
The Facebook page that Dr Anil runs now has nearly 1.2 million followers. While he started posting informative content including videos on Facebook from 2011, he began using the Facebook live application from 2017 to respond to queries of people from both at home and abroad. He not only gives tips to identify the symptoms of the diseases and measures to cure them but also encourages people to change their lifestyle to keep their heart healthy.
“When I have free time, I start thinking about creating useful content for my audience. In fact, I do a lot of research to prepare the videos that I post on social media. Sometimes, I get new ideas while attending to my patients. I immediately note down those things and record relevant videos to post on my Facebook account,” he shares.
In addition to over 20,000 videos dealing with heart-related issues to his credit on YouTube, Dr Anil has also authored a number of articles, raising awareness among people on heart diseases. Most of his videos have over a million views and engagements.
The number of heart patients is steadily rising in Nepal with the changes in lifestyle and unhealthy food habits and various other factors. This problem is acute especially among Nepali migrant workers living in Gulf countries and Malaysia. Dr Anil has been providing online consultation to migrant workers through Facebook "A large majority of my audience are migrant workers from Gulf countries. They even send messages. I, along with my assistants, respond to around 100 such queries a day," he tells Republica.
When Dr Anil started spending more time on Facebook to spread awareness, a section of people even accused him of promoting his “business”. However, he argues that what he is doing is purely a social service and that this has nothing to do with making money. “For instance, a large number of people ask for the details of the hospitals I am available at. I never post my address there. Some patients realize that they are visiting me only after arriving at my hospital. They tell me that they had watched me somewhere on social media," shares Dr Anil, who is also founder Chairman of National Cardiac Center in Kathmandu.
As the lifestyle and dietary habits of people are changing rapidly, the number of heart-related deaths are increasing each next year in Nepal. The only way poor countries like Nepal can tackle this issue is by raising awareness. "The number of untimely deaths related to heart diseases can be reduced if we are able to make people aware about the diseases. Thus, it is high time we all worked together to raise awareness among people about heart-related diseases," he adds.