Pakistan has one of the highest rising rates of oral (mouth) cancer in the world. How bad is it you ask? Let’s share some numbers first.
Rising Oral Cancer in Pakistan
In a study undertaken in 2011, it was found that in the subcontinental region of Pakistan and India, the incidence of oral cancer is as high as 40%. In entire Europe it was at just 2%.
In a culture where the sale and consumption of betel leaf or sweetened betel nuts (ghutka, paan, chaalia in the local vernacular) is left unchecked, this finding doesn’t seem surprising. They’re cheap (costing as much as 1-10 rupees), easily procurable and even deemed culturally acceptable. It’s not unheard of to hear of children as young as 10 years old with cancerous mouth sores.
And then there is smoking and tobacco-chewing. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the prevalence of smoking is 36% for males and 9% for females in Pakistan. Every day, some 1200 children start smoking, unbeknownst to the fact that this will become a habit for them for life. This can have untold repercussions for their health.
In the subcontinental region of Pakistan and India, the incidence of oral cancer is as high as 40%. In Europe alone it was 2%.
Only a timely intervention by a dentist can make this bad problem from getting worse. All this is preventable, and can mean the difference between life and death.
What’s surprising is that given the culture and data here, getting hold of a dentist is rather difficult. Especially in the public sector.
It was September 2014. Hamza Iqbal and Haris Durrani were doing their undergraduate course at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), brainstorming ways on how to address the issue of traditional medical practice not reaching the people that it’s supposed to. The issue cropped up when even one of the co-founders had trouble getting access to a dentist in Lahore.
Hamza Iqbal and Haris Durrani – The Co-Founders behind Healthwire.PK
In public sector hospitals, getting access to the doctors is a huge chore in itself, with the sheer number of patients and a dilapidated administrative structure coming in between.
In order to make healthcare services accessible, the duo from LUMS built up Healthwire, specifically for sidestepping the red tape associated with the Pakistan medical sector.
Every day, some more than children start smoking
Healthwire is an online platform that connects dentists with their patients. The service can locate neighborhood doctors, view their professional information and instantly book appointments with their preferred consultants. Patients can make informed choices with the verified doctors review system that Healthwire has. A recent study quoted that there are as many medical professionals in Pakistan as there are quacks, and this system was built to address this.
Through the Healthwire website (and mobile apps in the future as well), patients can search doctors according to their needs. The process of finding, choosing and booking an appointment is not only easy, but cuts down the unnecessary delays associated in the provision of healthcare services traditionally as the hassle of conventional appointment systems is taken care of by digitizing the book keeping. A service like Healthwire can widen the reachability of Pakistani doctors, leading to an increase in their patient clientage.
What Pain Points Does It Solve?
How Patients and Doctors can benefit from an online platform such as this:
- Difficulties in finding a doctor according to their needs
- Face problems in finding a doctor nearest to their location
- Patients become victim of malpractice because of the presence of quacks in the market
- Patients cannot rate and review their experience with doctors on a specific platform
- Have negligible online presence
- No formal channel where they can market their services
How Doctors Can Sign Up
Doctors can simply signup by logging on to the website and registering themselves. To protect against quacks, Healthwire confirms details about doctors by verifying it against their Pakistan Medical & Dental Council registration number before publishing their profile.
Healthwire can help you locate neighborhood doctors, view their professional information and instantly book appointments with your preferred consultants.
Future Plans of Healthwire
After beta-testing the service for the better part of 6 months, the co-founders behind Healthwire got invaluable feedback and data. The website is currently out of beta. And for now, it caters to dentists only, with more specialties being added to the website in the future.
Currently the service is restricted to Lahore only, letting the new startup establish its footing so that they can expand to other cities. Some 80+ dentists have signed up with the Healthwire platform.
Intrigued? You can start using the service today from here.