Pakistani-Saudi healthcare platform Educast launches service in Yemen

Many of those doctors were trained by Educast with the academic support of Pakistan’s Dow University of Health Sciences in Karachi.

A Yemeni mother and her baby at a hospital in Yemen. [Mohammed Hamoud/Anadolu Agency]

A joint Pakistan-Saudi Arabia online telehealth platform is set to launch in Yemen to provide urgent maternity and childcare services amid the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis, The Arab News has reported.

Educast was first launched in Pakistan and has successfully trained hundreds of Pakistani doctors in the field of telemedicine since last year. It is now to be expanded into war-torn Yemen, which suffers from one of the highest mortality rates in the world.

As per the Educast CEO Abdullah Butt, “Our main focus in Yemen will be maternal, neonatal and child health. The Yemeni authorities have granted us permission to start the telehealth operations under the e-Doctor program.” The installation and testing of appropriate equipment have been completed, he added, and operations will be launched in the first week of September.

A malnourished Yemeni boy lies on a bed at a hospital in the Red Sea port city of Houdieda, Yemen. (Reuters/Abduljabbar Zeyad)

In preparation for its expansion, Educast has put together a team of 200 licensed, Arabic-speaking female Pakistani doctors who are based in the Middle East. They will provide consultancy services in Yemen online, as well as through tele-clinics.

Many of those doctors were trained by Educast with the academic support of Pakistan’s Dow University of Health Sciences in Karachi. The e-Doctor initiative was made possible by attracting female doctors who had left the profession for personal reasons, such as marriage.

DOW University of Health Sciences (DUHS) in Karachi.

“We have provided online training to 800 female e-doctors, working remotely from home in 15 countries,” explained Butt. “At present, through the platform, 450 women e-doctors are attached to the Sindh government’s central coronavirus disease monitoring cell, which remotely oversees thousands of Covid-19 patients.”

The ongoing pandemic poses a threat to the humanitarian and health situation in Yemen, with the country’s healthcare system one of the least prepared to deal with it. There have already been almost 2,000 infection cases within the country and at least 560 deaths.

Kidney failures are on the rise in Yemen
Several thousand Yemenis are suffering from life-threatening kidney ailments as hospitals are unable to treat them amid a severe healthcare crisis. (Azzam al-Zubairi / TRTWorld)

The team will also train local healthcare workers, according to the head of the e-Doctor operations in Yemen, Ghulam Mustafa Tabbasum. “Through this project, female health workers, nursing staff, and paramedics will be trained by experts using our online interactive lectures.”

Educast’s expansion into Yemen comes as a vital development at a time when Yemen’s health services are struggling with the pandemic and the effects of the war between the Saudi-led coalition and the Iran-backed Houthi militia since 2015.

They need food': Yemen's starving children, grim legacy of six years of war - world news - Hindustan Times
A medical care worker examines a Yemeni child suffering from malnutrition, as women look on, at a treatment center in Yemen’s northern Hajjah province on July 5, 2020. (AFP)

It was revealed last month, for example, that numerous healthcare workers are quitting their jobs in the country amid fears of the virus that has killed at least 97 of them so far.

Maternity care and childcare are among the most impacted sectors, with the UN warning in May that 320,000 pregnant women were at risk of losing access to vital healthcare, and adding in June that 2.4 million Yemeni children are at risk of starvation.

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