Startups in Pakistan Helping Doctor Bahus Practice

Tara Khandelwal
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You will be surprised to know that in Pakistan women comprise 70 percent of the student population in medical colleges. However, most of these graduates never end up practicing medicine because they get married and aren’t allowed to work. These qualified women, or ‘doctor bahus’ are seen as a status symbol. However, now many health tech startups are catering to this demographic. A Karachi-based tech startup, Sehat Kahani, helps women give their services to rural and urban communities without ever leaving their homes.



Doctor wives can give their consultation via a Skype-like video conferencing system. There are also videos available through which doctors can explain patients’ bodies through them via a diagram.

Doctors should have valid degrees and valid practitioner’s licenses. Sehat Kahani has a network of over 500 woman doctors. As of now, 30 are employed via screen consultations.

Still, there are challenges. People in rural communities in Pakistan are not so comfortable with technology, and the internet connectivity is low.

"It's much easier for girls to get married once they are doctors and many girls don't really intend to work as professional doctors," said Dr Javed Akram, vice-chancellor of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Medical University.

There is a serious shortage of doctors in Pakistan, and the country needs its female doctors to practice. 

Another organisation which empowers Pakistan’s female doctors is DoctHERS. This company also allows female doctors to give consultations to patients from their home in tele clinics which are staffed with a nurse who coordinates treatment. The founder, Dr Sara Khurram says that she was motivated because of her own experience. She had to leave her residency when she conceived her baby because the hospital did not give her an option to work part, and she could not work full-time.

Even in India, women comprise more than fifty percent of medical colleges, but there is still a shortage of female doctors in India. Only 17 percent of all allopathic doctors in India are women.

Also Read: New Tajik Law Requires Women to Stick to Traditional Clothes

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