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Monday, Apr 15, 2024

Saudi-Pakistani telehealth platform to train 1,500 Afghan doctors

Saudi-Pakistani telehealth platform to train 1,500 Afghan doctors

A Saudi-Pakistani online education platform will start training more than 1,500 Afghan doctors, its CEO told Arab News, as the program received financing from the Islamic Development Bank.
he EduCast platform, based in Karachi, is a joint venture run by Pakistani expats in Saudi Arabia and professionals in Pakistan. It was established in 2016 and has since been providing services in Yemen, Pakistan and to Hajj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia.

For the platform’s eDoctors program, the IsDB has recently approved $180,000 under its technical assistance grant for setting up innovative online health education centers in Afghanistan, where the health system — understaffed, poorly equipped, and underfunded for years — is on the brink of collapse.

“EduCast has been awarded grant assistance from the IsDB to carry out the Afghanistan Medical Education uplift program and provide online specialist opinion services to Afghan doctors in six Afghan provinces,” Abdullah Butt, founder and CEO of EduCast, told Arab News on Thursday.

EduCast is already present in Afghanistan, where since last year it has been operating a teleconsultation with doctors at the Shefajo Hospital for women and children in Kabul.

The new program aims to train and certify 1,500 Afghan doctors through doctor-to-doctor online consultation and virtual seminars and provide in-person training at health institutions in neighboring Pakistan.

“Starting from the current month, we will set up telehealth education and clinical support facilities in six regional hospitals in Kabul, Jalalabad, Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-e Sharif and Khost,” Butt said.

“The online training program will be followed by in-person training for one or two months in Pakistan’s hospitals in Peshawar, Karachi and Islamabad in key health-related areas of high demand, including maternal and neonatal child health, and infectious and non-communicable diseases.”

Doctors practicing in Afghanistan have been lacking continuous medical education training in their relevant fields for years, and the situation further worsened when most of the international aid organizations withdrew from the country after the Taliban took control in 2021.

“Medical universities in Afghanistan do not offer CME-related programs, so establishing telemedicine and e-health as national platforms has been suggested to improve overall health care service delivery,” Butt said.

“In the IsDB-funded project, the provision of health care services in Afghanistan was identified as a solution to the adverse impacts of economic and political instability, after the withdrawal of international donor agencies from Afghanistan.”

Since its launching in 2019, about 1,200 doctors from all over the world joined the eDoctors program.

EduCast estimates that it has since provided e-health care and counseling services to over 4.4 million patients.
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