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doctHERs: Promoting Workforce Inclusion for Women; Health & Wellness for Textile Workers

Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

doctHERs™ provides vulnerable communities, including at-risk textile workers with access to high-quality health & wellness services while re-integrating women healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses, community-based health promoters and trained midwives) into the workforce in Pakistan.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if female doctors who were previously excluded from the health workforce due to sociocultural barriers, could leverage technology (nurse-assisted video-consultation) to provide affordable, high-quality healthcare to textile workers
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

According to the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PMDC), out of 58,789 qualified female doctors only 7524 are actively practicing medicine (~13%). This gender-based exclusion is particularly problematic in a country where 66% of Pakistanis (~120 million) live near or below the poverty line (income less than $2/day) and 90% of this subpopulation, including the vast majority of factory textile workers, cannot access affordable, quality healthcare

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

doctHERs leverages technology in the form of nurse-assisted video-consultation to connect home-based female doctors to remotely located patients (e.g. in textile factories) through a state-of –the-art telemedicine platform. Remotely located doctHERs are able to provide health & wellness services via HD video (with mobile phone backup) with the help of a nurse who is physically present within the factory. Examples of health & wellness services include: (i) hepatitis, tuberculosis & other infectious disease screening, (ii) breast/cervical cancer screening for women, (iii) stress management and behavioural changes. End-users are able to provide customer feedback via mobile-phone based surveys which help to refine and enhance service delivery.


Winner of G.E. Ashoka Changemakers, Women Empowering Work (MENA). ($25,000) • Winner of Rec@nnect Challenge by CRDF Global ($25,0000) Winner of Shell Tameer Ward ($3000). Finalist for Unilever Sustainable Living – Finalist for Echoing Green
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Razia is a 36-year old textile worker who is 3 months pregnant. Prior to doctHERs, Razia would have had to take a full day off from work (and lose her wages for that day) in order to see a gynaecologist at a government hospital. Due to the long waiting times and huge patient burden, the public sector specialist and ancillary staff would not have taken any time to counsel her regarding pregnancy nutrition and other aspects of prenatal care. With the introduction of doctHERs, Razia can now consult an Ob-Gyn specialist without having to leave the factory premises, with the help of an-onsite nurse. The nurse is also able to spend 30 minutes with Razia explaining to her all of the important aspects of prenatal care including nutrition.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Over the past 5 months, doctHERs has launched 2 clinics in urban slum areas and 1 clinic in a remote rural area, providing care to over 2500 patients at a cost of just $1/consultation. doctHERs has also conducted more than 10 health camps, providing surveillance screening to over 1500 slum dwellers for infectious disease conditions such as tuberculosis and hepatitis. Over 25 previously undiagnosed but infected patients have been successfully identified and treated as a result. doctHERs aims to scale its nurse-assisted video-consultation program to over 2500 clinics nationwide, directly impacting over 1.2 million lives by 2020 (including 150,000 workers in the textile industry) and indirectly impacting 6 million lives. By adhering to clinical guidelines and implementing customer feedback loops, doctHERs encourages other providers to raise the quality of care they provide.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

doctHERs has engaged a number of multinational corporations (manufacturers and retailers) to offer this program to their supply chains. In addition, doctHERs is in active discussion with a provincial government to introduce its model across a cluster of 22 primary care centers (BHUs) in the pilot phase, followed by a scale-up to 600 additional BHUs. At national scale, the public sector could potentially save $6.5 million/month or ~$100 million/year if doctHERs is implemented in the 6500 BHUs (basic health units) that are currently not providing adequate primary care to underserved communities.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

doctHERs charges health plan members 300 Rupees ($3) per ‘virtual’ office visit and 100 Rupees ($1) per visit in underserved communities. 40% of gross revenue from each office visit is paid to the doctHER, 20% to the nurse/ community health worker and 25% is used to cover programmatic and operating expenses. This yields a ~15% net profit margin. Value added services costs a minimum of $0.50 to a maximum of $5.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The major competitor to doctHERs™ remains the traditional, brick-and-mortar, community clinic model where the community seeks medical health care from less qualified healthcare providers (including quacks and ‘spiritual’ healers) compared to doctHERs™ . In Pakistan, mobile health or mHealth is provided by 3 major organizations: • Aman Foundation • Telenor/eHealth Services • Marie Stopes Society None of these organizations, however, provide state-of-the-art telemedicine (TM) which involves video-consultation and peripheral diagnostic instruments that are attached to a TM suite

Founding Story

The inspiration behind doctHERs is Dr. Sara Khurram, Co-FoundHER and COO. doctHERs was conceived shortly after she conceived her baby. During her 1st trimester, she had to be on bed-rest and wondered if this would be the end of her medical career. Fortunately, her management thought otherwise and challenged her to create her own job in delivering quality patient care while working from home. She felt really empowered and realized that there was a massive market opportunity for female doctors to be re-integrated into the workforce from home in a way which would address the healthcare needs of millions of underserved communities in Pakistan.


[1] Dr. Asher Hasan, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman: is a US Ashoka fellow and the Founder and CEO of Naya Jeevan, a hybrid social enterprise committed to improving access to quality, affordable healthcare for marginalized communities. [2] Dr. Sara Saeed, Co-FoundHER and full-time Chief Operating OfficHER: Sara has clinical experience in medicine, gynaecology, psychiatry and public health. [3] Dr. Iffat Zafar, Co-FoundHER & Full-Time Chief Medical Marketing OfficHER: Iffat has completed her Medical degree and (PGY-1) in Medicine and Surgery in 2008. She subsequently pursued a career in medical marketing at Novartis Pharmaceuticals prior to joining Naya Jeevan as the head of Medical Services in 2013. [4] Makkiya Jawed: Full-time Project ManagHER: Makkiya has a degree in psychology and is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Health. [5] Mahek Pethani - Full-time Project CoordinatHER: Mahek is a nurse with clinical experience in surgery at Aga Khan University Hospital. [6] Sarah Ashraf, Full-time Grant ManagHER: Sarah is a graduate from Karachi University and has worked in customer service for a number of multinational companies.
Value Chain: Where does your work fit into the apparel value chain? [check all that apply]


Your Role: What is your relationship to the apparel industry? [check all that apply]


Target Population: What stakeholder groups do you engage or empower in your work? [check all that apply]

Children, Consumers, Corporations, Factory Workers, Factory Owners, Policymakers, Retailers - Department Store, Retailers - Specialty Store, Retailers - Mass-merchandise Chain, Sourcing Manager / Supply Chain Manager, Supplier - contractor, Supplier - subcontractor, Women, Youth.

● Intervention Focus: What are you trying to achieve / influence? [check all that apply]

Access to Essential Services (i.e. Healthcare and Education), Access to Finance, Access to Social Protection Services (i.e. Insurance, Pension, etc.), Labor Rights (i.e. Collective Bargaining, etc.), Gender Equality, Anti-forced Labor or Anti-Human Trafficking, Physical Working Conditions.

Lever for Change: Select up to 3 ways your work is helping to transform the industry.

Capacity Building, Training, Technology.

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers?

Hidden from View: Conditions in Forests, Farms, and Factories are Only Visible to a Select Few, A Job is Not Enough: Low-Income Workers Cannot Secure Long-Term Well-Being, Consumers Aren't Motivated to Care: Neither Compelling Reasons Nor Easy Means to Change Consumption Habits, Sustainability is Not Yet in the DNA: Fast Fashion’s Current Model Disincentivizes Value-Driven Economies.

Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below?

Unite More than Voice: Tap into Community Capital and Collective Resources, Activate Local Know-how for Driving Solutions: Build Opportunities for Workers to Become Leaders, Disrupt Business as Usual: Target Key Players Who Can Influence the Bottom Line, Transform the Chain into a Web: Link Unlikely Sectors that Open New Pathways to Sustainability.

Innovation Inspiration: When you first conceived of your project, did you think of it as applicable to the apparel industry?


If you answered "no" to the previous question, which industry was your project originally aimed at transforming?

Corporate social responsibility, Health, Labor.

● Replicating in the Apparel Industry: If your project didn't initially target the apparel industry, how are you specifically tailoring it to do so now?

Engaging Large Retailers & Suppliers to Provide Health & Wellness to their Workers

Are you nurturing or inspiring others to be changemakers? If so, how?

We regularly share our learnings with other entrepreneurs and innovators at business plan competitions, workshops, conferences

● Tell us about the partnerships that enhance your approach. How have you collaborated with others in the industry to increase your impact?

We have partnered with DKT, an NGO which operates a nationwide network of 775 “Dhanak” health care centers across Pakistan