doctHERS: Female Doctors Providing Medical Care to People all Over Pakistan
doctHERS is a healthcare platform through which female doctors are providing the medical attention required by thousands of underprivileged people who do not get it due to inaccessibility to hospitals and doctors. The doctHERS service is available in both rural and urban areas so that the overall healthcare system of the country can be improved.
How doctHERS Works
Using the latest telemedicine system, home based female doctors can diagnose and treat patients. This is done with the assistance of nurses who are available in the walk in clinics (which have been set up using existing public places) or at times who go on Home Health Visits (HHVs).
Clinics are equipped with a number of medical facilities. The nurses take the patient’s history and then examine them under the supervision of the doctor who is present at a remote location at that time. Other than that community health workers as well as midwives are trained and are working closely with the doctors too. Currently there are 15 doctors, 5 specialists and 5 nurses.
The patients are charged a nominal fee, and in the near future it would be free for those who cannot afford it at all.
doctHERS Clinic Setups
The first clinic by doctHERS was inaugurated in Model Colony, Karachi on 11th May 2015. The second one was set up on 13th September in Hijrat Colony, Karachi. Third doctHERS clinic was established on 13th October in Manshera, KPK. And the fourth one was launched on 22nd December at Ilyas Goth, Karachi.
Until now 15000 patients have been treated for different illnesses, and an estimated 100,000 people have benefited indirectly. The target is to provide assistance to 1.2 million people through setting up hundreds of more clinics by 2020.
Challenge Faced by doctHers
As a very small percentage of the population uses the internet, so it has been a great challenge for the team to convince people to accept this method of healthcare. Awareness has been developed through a huge door to door campaign, and the people are given information and training on how to use the doctHERS system.
How doctHers Started
Initiated in 2014, it was the brainchild of Dr. Sara Saeed Khurram (a graduate of Dow University of Health Sciences). The other two founders are Dr. Iffat Zaffar (a graduate of Ziauddin Medical Uinversity) and Dr. Asher Hasan (who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Neurobiology and Neurosciences from the Oberlin College at Cleveland, Ohio). It has been part of two accelerators Unreasonable Institute and Invest2Innovate.
Moreover for the past 6 years, the team at doctHERS has been a fundamental part of the internationally acclaimed healthcare NGO called Naya Jeevan, which was founded by Dr. Asher Hasan. It obtains and provides low-income workers with a health insurance plan at a nominal cost.
Awards & Representation
It has received numerous awards which include first position in the Women-led Established Company/Startups category at theMIT Enterprise Forum for Pakistan Awards, G.E. Ashoka Change-makers: Women Empowering Work (MENA) Prize, Rec@nnect Challenge by CRDF Global and Shell Tameer Young Entrepreneur Award.
Just recently Dr. Sara Saeed has been awarded the HRH Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneur Award 2016, making her the first Pakistani female founder and doctHers the first company to achieve it. This includes an allocation of funds for the startup as well as a one year mentoring package offered by Unilever and University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership.
doctHERS also had the privilege to be selected and become the first startup to represent Pakistan in the Seedstars Summit(which is the final of the global startup competition focusing on evolving markets; Seedstars World) held at Switzerland, in March 2016.
One Year After!
So in just a span of a year, doctHERS has provided numerous female physicians across the country the opportunity to utilize their medical training which was just being wasted due to socio-cultural constraints. They are now actively engaged in public healthcare and are playing their rightful role. Furthermore it has created a way of improving the social, cultural and economic conditions of the society, and hopefully others will follow its lead in this noble cause.