DoctHERS is a digital platform that connects qualified female doctors to patients who are unable to access affordable healthcare in Pakistan.
Sara Saeed, a 29-year old Pakistani doctor, has won the third HRH the Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneur Prize for her project doctHERs, according to an official announcement made by Cambridge Institute of Leadership.
Dr Sara Saeed is the co-founder of doctHERs – a digital platform which connects impoverished communities in Pakistan to high-quality healthcare while reintegrating qualified female doctors into the workforce.
Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever and Polly Courtice, Director, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, awarded the prize to Dr. Saeed.
Speaking at the event, Dr Sara Saeed said: “When a patient gets treated in my clinic, and when a doctor gets a job and when a nurse is empowered in a community – my passion increases every day. I’m honoured to have received this award and delighted that the work of doctHERs in Pakistan has been recognised, especially in light of the innovative and inspiring projects of the other finalists. With financial and mentoring support, I am now looking forward to working with community partners and organisations such as Unilever to impact even more lives.”
While majority of Pakistan’s population have little or no access to quality healthcare, socio-cultural barriers prevent around 87% of qualified women doctors from working. DoctHERs has treated 100 patients in their pilot phase and directly impacted 15,000 lives and now employs ten doctors, five nurses and three specialists. By 2020, they aim to reach 1.2 million patients.
The technology uses video alongside peripheral instruments operated by nurses in the clinic which are attached to the telemedicine system to diagnose patients remotely. Patients from the lowest income bracket are charged around $1 per consultation.
In Pakistan, socio-cultural barriers prevent many women who qualify as doctors from working as fewer than 13% of qualified female doctors actually go on to specialist practice as per Pakistan Medical and Dental Council.
As part of the prize, Dr. Sara Saeed has been awarded capital for her start-up and a tailored mentoring programme delivered by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) and Unilever over the course of the year.
Shazia Syed, Chairperson and CEO, Unilever Pakistan highlighted, “I am delighted by the passion and determination Dr Saeed has shown to increase access to healthcare and women empowerment in the field of medicine. Her work indicates the gaining momentum for the Sustainable Development Goals that Unilever also supports. Young entrepreneurs need our help and support to realise their initiatives and change the world to create a brighter future. I am especially proud to see a Pakistani receive this prestigious award this year.”
The Awards are part of Unilever’s efforts to support the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and celebrate inspirational entrepreneurs aged 35 and under who have developed a product, service or application that tackles some of the world’s biggest sustainability challenges. 927 entrepreneurs entered the awards from 99 countries on the Ashoka Changemakers platform, an online community that connects entrepreneurs around the globe to share ideas. The winner was selected from a shortlist of seven finalists following a demanding interview process and an intensive accelerator programme to prepare finalists for the final pitch.