Bridging the health care gap by bringing female doctors back into the healthcare workforce.


As a developing country, Pakistan struggles to provide access to qualified healthcare for its population, and yet there are many female medical graduates who, for various reasons, don’t practice medicine. Now, thanks to an innovative E-Health startup, new technological solutions are changing access for millions.

The statistics are sobering. Pakistan has a population of 200 million people. More than 51% live below the poverty line and have limited or no access at all to quality primary care facilities. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), one out of three women don’t see a doctor during their pregnancy, while one child out of every five does not get to see their fifth birthday.

Every year in Pakistan, thousands of students graduate from medical schools, and the majority are female. Of these, only 23% of these female medical graduates are registered as physicians, according to PMDC statistics. The remaining either emigrate to work abroad, or stop practising and leave their careers midway due to social and cultural norms – locally known as the ‘doctor bride phenomena’. It was apparent that a female-centric solution was needed to bring these female doctors back into the healthcare workforce.

Founded by two female Pakistani doctors Dr Iffat Zafar and Dr Sara Saeed, Sehat Kahani is empowering female doctors and digitising healthcare in Pakistan. An e-health startup, the company aims to democratise access to quality and affordable health care using cost-effective ICT enabled solutions through a network of qualified home-based female doctors. The services integrate health with technology to create virtual solutions that provide access to health for all while making use of the untapped female health resources of Pakistan.

"Sehat Kahani allows us to consult patients from our homes without ignoring the responsibilities to our families... it gives me satisfaction that in a small way, I can serve my people." Dr. Uzma Hameed, General Practitioner – Sehat Kahani

Patients visit Sehat Kahani E-Health hubs where frontline workers connect them to qualified home-based female physicians and skilled specialists using video consultation and Electronic Medical Records systems. These frontline workers are trained via a five-step process on medical knowledge, leadership and soft skills.

Sehat Kahani uses Microsoft Azure Cloud Platform to store and analyse patient healthcare histories. The patient history is captured and stored in a centralised cloud service when they visit the clinic, which gives them access to their records no matter what healthcare facility they visit. They can access their records via their smartphone, and none of the information is lost along the patient journey.

Microsoft through the 4Afrika initiative has supported Sehat Kahani with a grant, go-to-market strategy and provided advisory roles for strategies on scaling up and growing their business. This has also facilitated the design of a digital health solution including a mobile app and a web platform to diagnose and treat a broad range of diseases virtually.

"Early on in our journey, Microsoft 4Afrika saw the vision and believed in it at that time... Microsoft cloud and Artificial Intelligence can definitely change the entire health-care ecosystem, how data is actually stored, analysed and how treatment plans are eventually going to be built." Dr. Iffat Zafar, COO & Co-founder – Sehat Kahani

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