KARACHI: There are approximately 85000 female doctors, who completed their medical training at the expense of the state or privately but are not currently a part of Pakistan’s medical workforce. According to experts, if only 50% of these out-of-practice female doctors are mobilized, 70% of the health issues being faced by people in low-income group communities can be resolved.

“A large number of women in the low-income group communities in Pakistan do not have access to healthcare facilities, but there are thousands of out-of-profession female doctors, who can be mobilized to serve these patients through telemedicine. This would not only lower disease burden but would also save thousands of lives in the country”, said Dr Sara Saeed, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sehat Kahani, a healthcare startup that is employing out-of-profession doctors to serve low-income group communities.

The healthcare organization has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Pakistan Cardiac Society to start educating patients about heart disease, cholesterol, and blood pressure monitoring so that cardiac-care awareness and treatment facilities could be provided to low-income group communities at their doorsteps.

Dr Sara maintained that heart problems are no more confined to the elite segment of the society as they are now more aware and take care of their health. However, in the low-income group and lesser educated population, hardly anybody knows anything about cholesterol monitoring, high blood pressure, and other risk factors associated with heart disease.

In order to provide cardiac-care consultation to these patients who cannot visit cardiologists owing to their economic and cultural problems, Sehat Kahani has entered into an agreement with the Pakistan Cardiac Society. Through this program, female doctors would educate patients about blood pressure monitoring, cholesterol testing, and taking their history while the cardiologists associated with the Pakistan Cardiac Society would visit these communities regularly to provide free of charge consultation to patients, Dr Sara informed.

“We have 25 clinics throughout the country out of which, six clinics are functioning in Karachi. Through our MoU with the Pakistan Cardiac Society, we are going to start heart health education at our clinics, which would later be visited by the cardiologists to provide consultation to heart patients,” she added.

President, Pakistan Cardiac Society (PCS), Dr Feroz Memon, said that due to awareness and lifestyle modifications, people in other parts of the world were living healthy lives and their rate of having Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD) was reducing. However, in Pakistan, the ratio of people having heart diseases was reporting a constant rise, which should be alarming for the nation as well as the authorities.

“Lack of awareness among our people is a major risk factor behind causing heart diseases to our people as Pakistani children and youngsters are programmed to have heart diseases, diabetes mellitus, and hypertension as compared to other ethnic groups in the world due to their genes. However, due to their unhealthy lifestyle, children as young as 12 to 18 years of age are presenting with high blood pressure and diabetes while young men in their late 20s are and early 30s are dying due to heart attacks.”

Prof Memon maintained that there is an urgent need to conduct research and collect data to find out the causes and prepare preventive strategies concerning the situation. He added that their collaboration with Sehat Kahani would yield positive results and help them in collecting valuable data as well as providing heart health consultation to marginalized segments of the society.

He stated, “In order to save our future generations, we have decided to promote the culture of research in the area of cardiology. In this regard, HealthRab has been helping us for the last three years. We hope that this research and data collected by our young researchers would help us in saving thousands of lives annually,” he added.

General Secretary of Pakistan Cardiac Society (PCS) and eminent cardiologist, Prof Ishtiaq Rasool, and others also spoke on occasion.

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