A doctor using social media to spread health awarenessDr Om Murti Anil’s videos, many of which have gone viral, have turned him into a social media celebrity. He is popular especially among migrant workers.
A few weeks ago, Dr Om Murti Anil, an interventional cardiologist, posted a video on the dowry system on his Facebook page. His video came at a time when news of dowry-related violence involving a medical doctor had gone viral.
“I thought it was necessary to make a video on the dowry system, which is prevalent in Nepalese society, especially in the Terai region,” said Dr Anil. “Even though the dowry system is legally banned, thousands of people continue to be affected by this ill practice.”
His video on the dowry system got over 836,000 views, 3,800 shares, 9,500 comments, and 50,000 likes.
For Dr Anil, who originally hails from the Madhesh Province, the dowry system is something he has seen up close. While studying medicine, his classmates teased him that he should set up his own hospital with the money he would get from his dowry.
His family members and relatives also suggested that he get married to a girl from a well-to-do family to get a handsome dowry.
“But I ended up marrying a woman from a hill community, and not only did I not take dowry, but I also financed my own marriage,” said Dr Anil in his dowry video. “Had I taken a dowry, I would have been financially better today, but I would not have been happy. It is better to ride a bicycle from your own income than riding a motorbike or driving a car from the dowry’s money.”
Besides making videos on social issues, he regularly uploads content on health-related topics. Dr Anil has over 1.2 million followers on Facebook, and his other videos on health issues have amassed millions of views and thousands of likes, comments, and shares.
Another video Dr Anil made that went viral is titled ‘True Happiness’, which has over 4.7 million views, 165,000 likes, 13,000 shares and more than 5,200 comments. His other popular videos are ‘How Rage Impacts Hearts’, ‘Ways to Control Blood Pressure’, ‘Is Drinking a Little bit of Alcohol Good for the Heart?’, ‘Preventing the spread of infection during Pandemic’, and ‘How Corona can Deceive us’.
It was during the Covid-19 pandemic that Dr Anil started making informative videos. Unlike in the past when mainstream media such as radio, television, and newspaper were the only means to spread messages to the general masses, this is not the case anymore. Today, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have become equally effective in disseminating information.
Though experts say that disseminating information about diseases, their prevention and control, and medicines can be helpful for people, they also stress that extra care should be given to ensure that wrong information is not disseminated to the public.
“People should know the intent of the message and also make sure that if the person giving the message is qualified or not,” said Dr Anil. “If the motive [of posting messages] is to do business by attracting patients to their clinics, or if there is a conflict of interest, then it is wrong and against the ethics of one’s profession.”
Dr Anil’s clients also request him to keep posting informative videos. The majority of Dr Anil’s audience is Nepali migrant workers in the Middle East. They regularly leave messages and comments asking various health-related questions on Dr Anil’s Facebook page, which has a response rate of 70 percent.
To make videos and respond to queries, Dr Anil has a separate team that includes a camera person, a video editor, and an IT expert.
“There are days when I begin my morning thinking about topics for video content,” said Dr Anil. “I have invested a huge amount of money and time into creating videos and making people aware of various health and social topics, and it makes me happy to see the impact my work has been able to create."