Pakistan attracts 700 female doctors back into practice through online serviceBMJ 2019; 367 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l6752 (Published 29 November 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6752
All rapid responses
As doctors, we are thankful to Dow University of Health Sciences of Pakistan for launching the “e-Doctor” Program and attracting female doctors, among 35,000 out-of-work female Pakistani doctors, back into practice. Additionally, “e-Doctor” Program should be launched for female dentists because we know hundreds of female dentists who have never touched a patient. “e-Doctor” Program will prove helpful in many ways.
First, the “e-Doctor” Program will not only reduce the mortality rates maternal and newborn babies, which is 178 maternal deaths per 100 000 births and 46 babies deaths per 1000 within the first month of birth, but will also help to breach gaps in access to family planning, polio vaccination, and treatment for epidemics such as dengue, typhoid, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis which are the major life threats for Pakistani due to lack of awareness.
Second, Pakistan is facing an acute shortage of qualified doctors as around 80% of female doctors, who are 70% of total medical admissions, leave the profession while 50% of the male doctors, who are 30% of total medical admission, leave the country for better job opportunities. Unluckily only one doctor is available to treat 895 patients, despite the country producing 8,000 doctors every year. The country needs around 0.8 to 0.9 million doctors. Hence, the “e-Doctor” Program will effectively reduce the doctor to patient ratio.
Third, the “e-Doctor” Program will bring those female doctors back into the profession whose knowledge is outdated and who have lost their confidence due to quitting their profession for multiple social issues. Such female doctors can treat patients in an up-to-date manner with confidence after getting the awareness of modern education and research via a series of practical demonstrations and various methods and systems of examinations.
Fourth, the “e-Doctor” Program will help those who are already employed elsewhere for the academic updates, to attain higher excellence, and to boost expertise.
Fifth, the “e-Doctor” Program will connect those female doctors sitting at home who couldn’t continue their career due to lack of opportunities or traveling to deprived and remote areas with fewer facilities. Such female doctors will be able to resume work via opening e-consultant clinics from where these doctors will take calls from their homes and advise accordingly without going out of home or investing.
Sixth, EduCast, a virtual training and telehealth platform, is a joint venture by overseas Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia and those within Pakistan which is expected to recoup some of the losses in the long run by bringing back these female doctors into the services.
Competing interests: No competing interests