- Dr. Sara Saeed, a Rolex Award for Enterprise recipient, has established a network of 7,000 doctors in Pakistan through her initiative ‘Sehat Kahani,’ providing virtual consultations to patients in remote areas.
- Sehat Kahani, founded in 2017, bridges the healthcare gap in Pakistan using advanced technologies, including telehealth, and has significantly improved healthcare delivery.
- The initiative addresses the shortage of female doctors in the workforce, contributing to over 1.1 million consultations and 65 online clinics, supported by the Rolex Award for Enterprise.
Dr. Sara Saeed, recipient of the prestigious Rolex Award for Enterprise, has established a network of 7,000 doctors in Pakistan. These doctors provide virtual consultations to patients residing in remote areas of Pakistan through the initiative led by Dr Sara Saeed’s ‘Sehat Kahani.’
Sehat Kahani has brought about a major improvement in healthcare delivery in Pakistan, that has been achieved due to advanced technologies and extensive network services. Telehealth, an emerging technology across the globe, and is playing a crucial role in delivering high-quality healthcare services directly to the doorsteps of individuals, especially those living is rural areas unable to reach the nearest clinic or hospital.
Dr Sara Saeed, ‘Sehat Kahani’ and a Network of 7000 Doctors
Sehat Kahani, inaugurated in 2017, stands as a leading initiative in this domain. Its visionary founder, Dr. Sara Saeed, a medical professional, is on a mission to fortify Pakistan’s delicate healthcare system by bridging the gap between patients and physicians through digitization.
Quoting recent statistics, Dr. Saeed highlights that approximately 210 million people in Pakistan lack access to basic healthcare facilities. In response to this challenge, Sehat Kahani has connected a substantial network primarily consisting of female doctors to patients in remote areas of Pakistan. Dr. Saeed, along with co-founder Dr. Iffat Zafar Agha, successfully secured seed funding of US$ 500,000 in 2018, followed by a pre-series of $1 million in March 2021.
The app, launched with around 60 doctors in 2019, has evolved into Sehat Kahani, now comprising a robust network of over 7,000 doctors. Notably, 90% of these doctors are women, and approximately half of them are home-based female doctors who have re-entered practice after taking a break due to marriage and childbirth.
The Shortage of Female Doctors in the Field Due to Majority Becoming ‘Doctor Brides’
Dr Saeed first saw the impact that the shortage of doctors in the workforce was having while training in a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city.
“I saw a lot of patients coming from rural areas with issues that could have been handled at a primary care level. But because they didn’t have doctors in their communities – because such a majority of our workforce sits at home and doesn’t work – they came to the hospital with end-stage diseases that could not be cured but just managed [instead].”
It is a highly known fact that a large majority of female doctors in Pakistan end up becoming a part of the doctor bride phenomena. The raised status a doctor’s degree produces more reputable proposals for girls. These young doctors are married off right after graduation and do not enter the field, thus creating a huge gap in the market. Sehat Kahani allows these female doctors to provide consultations from the comfort of their homes.
Rolex Award for Enterprise Assist Extraordinary Individuals Globally
Instituted in 1976, these Awards were established to assist extraordinary individuals globally, particularly pioneers facing limited or no access to conventional funding. These individuals respond to significant challenges with inventive and ground-breaking projects, contributing to the progression of human knowledge and well-being. Sehat Kahani was also backed by the Rolex Award for Enterprise which enabled it to facilitate over 1.1 million consultations and setup 65 online clinics.