Local tele-health start-up receives international acclaim

Educast provided health consultation to 0.4m patients during pandemic


Kashif Hussain September 21, 2021

KARACHI:

A Pakistani tele-health startup was praised on the global stage for its innovation and ingenuity to provide consultation for health women and children in a world now dominated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Islamic Development Bank's Science (IsDB), Technology and Innovation Fund called Educast was cited as the best example of technology-based medical services in the Islamic world at the Showcase of Innovation of Tomorrow Powered by Transform Fund inTashkent, Uzbekistan. The event was organised by the Islamic Development Fund's Technology Innovation Initiative, which took place under the aegis of the 46th Annual Meeting of the lsDB Group Board of Governors in Tashkent.

It recognised the importance of STI as a catalyst for social and economic growth in the developing world.

The theme of this knowledge sharing and networking event was to complement the theme of the annual meeting, "Respond, Restore, Restart: Post-Covid Resilience and Prosperity for all."

Only five out of a total 300 transform fund's financed innovative disruptions, since the last three calls, were invited to the event.

IsDB's transform fund collectively got more than 10,000 project proposals from 90 countries in 2019, 2020 and 2021. During the pandemic, Educast used its network to take care of 0.4 million Covid patients across Sindh with the help of the provincial government.

This support helped minimise the pressure on the health care system of the country. Overseas Pakistanis, living in GCC countries such as UAE and Saudi Arabia, also provided consultation through a network of 1,000 trained women doctors linked with the startup.

Initially launched with the aim to provide out-of-practice doctors with opportunities to re-enter the workforce, Educast focused on preventing maternal and newborn deaths in vulnerable communities that have limited or no access to adequate health services.

After the pandemic broke, the network launched a timely Covid-19 initiative to provide care and health consultation to home isolated patients in Pakistan. "The remarkable achievement from Educast is vital as the pandemic deeply affected many IsDB Member Countries and vulnerable populations, where innovative use of digital technologies can make a remarkable difference," said IsDB President's STI Senior Adviser Dr Hayat Sindi

Apart from Pakistan, Educast extended its services to war-torn Islamic countries like Yemen, Palestine, Syria and recently started preparation to establish tele-health clinics in Afghanistan.

Educast founder Abdullah Butt told the Express Tribune that his start-up provided a telemedicine platform to female doctors through specialised training. These female lady doctors provide live medical counseling to women and provide training to Yemeni medical staff. "Educast is providing women and child health and tele-orthopedic services in Palestine, Syria is also included in Educast tele medicine network."

He said the next step is Afghanistan where Pakistani women doctors will provide medical consultation and treatment through telemedicine.

"We are in contact with the Pakistani and Afghan authorities to establish tele-health clinics in three different cities of Afghanistan. As soon the situation is clear, we will advance to support our neighbours who are in urgent need of health care services in the present circumstances."

Around 1,000 Pakistani women, living in 27 countries around the world, are the real force behind the idea. These women doctors were also among the 80 per cent female doctors who quit their profession after medical education and went home, he concluded.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 21st, 2021.

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