A new startup in Pakistan aims to kill two big birds with one stone. The health platform, called doctHERs, connects female doctors with poor communities. On the one hand, it reintegrates female doctors back into the workforce. On the other, it allows underprivileged women to have access to high quality healthcare.
In Pakistan, female doctors are often unable to practice medicine due to cultural restrictions. Out of the 69,670 licensed female doctors in Pakistan, only 9,000 actively practice medicine. Combine this with the fact that 90 percent of the population has limited access to healthcare, and doctHERS becomes the perfect solution.
In rural areas, doctHERs has worked to open clinics and employ female nurses. Female doctors connect to the clinic through an online video system, such as MD Consults or Skype. They are then able to talk directly to patients, and supervise nurses during examinations. Fees for patients vary from USD$1 to $5 for each consultation—an affordable price compared to other alternatives. There is also a ‘Zakat and Welfare Model’ for patients who cannot afford these prices.
Founded in 2015 by Dr. Sara Saeed, a female doctor who had to leave her practice after having a baby, and Dr. Asher Hasan, a Harvard educated entrepreneur, doctHERs has, so far, impacted 15,000 lives through four clinics. It employs 15 doctors, five nurses, and five specialists. The team is ambitious; they aim to reach 1.2 million patients through 500 clinics by 2020.
The work being done by doctHERs has been recognized internationally. In May, Dr. Sara Saeed won the HRH The Prince of Wales’ Young Sustainability Entrepreneur Prize. In September, the project was among the 10 selected solutions at the Solutions Summit organized by the UN Foundation and the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service.