Healthcare in rural Pakistan, a “Sehat Kahani” initiative

Healthcare is one of the core concerns worldwide. As sound body makes sound mind, but it is
one of the major issues in countries like Pakistan, though a lot of work is being done on it.
Healthcare in rural Pakistan and the careers of women doctors are being revolutionized as
internet access grows across the country, where programs like “Sehat Kahani” are allowing
people with limited mobility because of geography or civilization to interact online.

Healthcare in rural Pakistan is correlated with the health care takers. And it’s understood that
there are more number of male doctors than female doctors, with lesser access to rural areas.
There are still a big number of female doctors in urban parts. Women doctors more than 1,500
kilometers (930 miles) to the south in the port of Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, face their
own challenges, with their careers often put on ice. Most of them get married and become
mothers in the traditional, patriarchal country.

Now technology has been integrated with healthcare in rural Pakistan, a Karachi-based health
tech startup, “Sehat Kahani”, has deployed Skype to crack both problems at once by bringing
work to the doctors and medical guidance to the villages.

Instead of visiting the “Sehat Kahani” clinic in the village patients speak face-to- face via
video conferencing to a doctor in Karachi. The remote doctors offer a fresh solution to
Pakistan’s struggling healthcare sector.

Men prefer to have doctors as wives rather than receptionists or hair stylists. They are not
giving anything back to the country. So let them work and serve the country by bringing a
positive change.

This “Sehat Kahani” healthcare center in rural Pakistan operates simply. First of all the
patient sends all information to the doctor and then Doctor gets connected to the patient via
Skype before making a diagnosis.

A “Sehat Kahani” representative at the clinic in Bhosa Raheel Tanvir said that 80% of
women doctors quit this profession after getting married. As they are not allowed to continue
their profession, so to overcome this problem a program has been started to bring back those
female doctors who have left their profession to serve people who need them, specially the
women of rural areas of Pakistan. They can continue their profession, can examine the patients
while sitting at home and can also take care of their family.

Vice chancellor of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) said that the Bhosa clinic
opened last September and since then has seen hundreds of patients each month, signifying the
need for the female doctors’ and assisting centers of healthcare in rural areas of Pakistan.

Such areas not only lack in general healthcare issues but the country has one of the world’s
highest infant mortality rates and just 0.5-0.8 per cent of its GDP has been spent on the health
sector in the past decade. Such “Sehat kahani” program is very helpful, particularly for
female patients because it is close to the vicinity and adds upto healthcare in rural Pakistan.

Doctor Benish Ehsan do multitasking, care for her child as he sits on her lap, and she keep on
doing her online examination of a young patient in Bhosa. In which she asked number of
questions to patient through computer science such as; Is he using the bathroom, has the
vomiting stopped or not? Advised the worried mother to feed her child with more fruit and
vegetables. Along with prescribing her some medicines as her son was losing weight.

The program is empowering for stay-at- home mothers who also happen to be doctors. It suits
women who cannot go outside and can carry on their career while sitting at home. Now women
can enjoy their family life along with taking care of patients. And helping those who cannot
travel all the way long to visit doctor.

The local government is also tuning in to the trend, setting up an e-ilaj, or e-treatment, centre
in a village called Bilahi, with plans to expand in other remote areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
So that such healthcare services could be provided to anyone, anytime.

The government initiative is working in alliance with a local internet provider to bring medical
facilities to 15 villages almost targeting more than 27,000 people. As there are less numbers of
doctors to cater huge demand. Over past five years, Punjab, Sindh, and Khyber- Pakhtunkhwa
provinces have treated more than 50,000 patients in such clinics such as “Sehat Kahani”
centers. Along with bordering remote villages in Margalla Hills as well. Now this system with
modern facilities is helping healthcare in rural Pakistan, adding up more to the medical
services.

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