More than half a million female borrowers of small loans and community people will be provided with medical advice digitally free of cost in view of the pandemic-induced health risks in the winter.
Digital Healthcare Solutions (DH), provider of over a million online medical consultations in Bangladesh, and Shakti Foundation, which works for financial inclusion and women empowerment of almost half a million women through micro and SME financing, health and other services, have joined hands for the purpose, according to a news release issued on Monday.
They would bring innovative healthcare solutions to Shakti borrowers and community members in the surrounding areas as the process began on November 1.
The partners have installed new technology at 11 Shakti Medical Care Centres (SMCC), to upgrade them to digital women’s health centres with the objective to further improve services with new, medical support for more than 70 other clinics, said the release.
“The 11 digital women’s health centres have huge potential, to bring top quality specialist advice to villages or community via video. Over time, we can close the loop for all patients, with the centres being a point for screening, early detection, diagnostics, and safe, reliable medicine and empower those villages with health centres as economic hubs,” Andrew Smith, CCO of Digital Healthcare Solutions, says.
“This is a new offline-online model for Bangladesh, that would offer great new health services for tens of thousands of women and families.”
Shakti borrowers, and their families, can now access free unlimited well-trained (MBBS) doctor consultations via call, chat or video call and specialist physicians including gynecologists, pediatricians, skin and medicine specialists, added the news release.
It mentioned that all consultations are provided via video, where previous tests report and prescriptions can be shared, new prescriptions and onward care referrals to local hospitals are provided digitally and printed locally.
At certain centres rare or expensive medicines, and diagnostics, can be ordered digitally for later delivery to the centre, according to the arrangement.
Local Shakti community health workers and microfinance staff from the communities are at the heart of the project, who help to identify borrowers with maternal or child health needs, and refer them to the digital centres.
In the first three days of piloting the service, over 100 women accessed appointments with specialists including 30 with gynecologists, and 20 with pediatricians, according to the release.
Shakti and DH have also launched free digital doctor support for all Shakti members, who can now avail unlimited doctor calls- 08 000 111 000 (toll-free), chat and video call via the “Digital Hospital” app.
Furthermore, up to 5,000 Shakti members are trialling a new health plan from DH, combining unlimited access to doctors with Tk 20,000 free health cash back coverage on hospital costs, through DH’s Amra Shurokkhito package.
Imran Ahmed, Deputy Executive Director at Shakti Foundation, says, “Our partnership with Digital Health to bring quality health services and online consultation with specialists to marginalised women and their families even in remote areas is yet another example of Shakti leveraging technology to disrupt the status-quo, reiterating its commitment to ensure good health and overall empowerment of women.”