Marriage no longer a bitter pill to swallow for 35,000 out of work women doctors

An instructor takes online classes as part of the eDoctor program which was launched last year to recruit out-of-practice women doctors. (Photo courtesy: DUHS)
Updated 29 August 2019
Follow

Marriage no longer a bitter pill to swallow for 35,000 out of work women doctors

  • Online initiative by Pakistan to ensure those who had quit practice can return to profession
  • eDoctor project also hopes to recover part of $2.3bn loss to the exchequer

KARACHI: Nearly 17 years after Dr. Soniya Arshad quit her job as a specialist in speech pathology and audiology, she is excited about finally being able to return to work.
The 41-year-old resident of Karachi, who, recently moved to Dammam, Saudi Arabia, said she chose family over her career when she took the decision in 2002.
Now, thanks to the eDoctor initiative – a refresher program for out-of-work women doctors, initiated by the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) in Pakistan in April last year – Arshad said she’s grateful for getting a second chance at living her dream.
“I recently moved to Saudi Arabia after marriage as my husband got a job here and am not employed yet. With the launch of the eDoctor program, I will be able to resume work without going out of my home or investing [in a private clinic of my own],” she told Arab News by phone.
Dr. Arshad is one among more than 35,000 women doctors who quit the profession after graduating in the field, mainly due to family and societal pressures, according to statistics provided by the DUHS.
“Most female doctors quit their profession after marriage or due to other social issues and then they lose touch and confidence. To bring them back into the profession, the eDoctor program has been launched which will enable them to be a part of E-consultants through modern technology,” Prof. Dr. Zarnaz Wahid, pro-Vice Chancellor DUHS and chairperson of the eDoctor project told Arab News.
Through the program, students can take the classes from anywhere in the world and join the medical field in their host country.
The process requires participants to attend e-lectures, following which they can provide online consultation to patients from any clinic that employs them.
The initiative, experts say, is a win-win for all.
With Pakistan being a male-dominated society – where the female to male enrollment ratio in medical universities stands at 70:30 – it’s a sorry state of affairs when 80 percent of women doctors choose to opt out of the field.
“Around 50 percent of the male doctors leave the country for better job opportunities and due to mistreatment at the hospitals. The country needs around 0.8 to 0.9 million doctors,” Dr. S.M Qaiser Sajjad, Secretary General of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) told Arab News.




This photo shows an online class in session. The program was launched as part of the eDoctor project which aims to bring back out-of-practice women doctors. (Photo courtesy: DUHS)

The shortage is such that there’s only one doctor available – from among a pool of 232,358 registered medical practitioners – to treat 895 persons, despite the country producing 8,000 doctors every year, according to data provided by the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) which acts as a regulatory body.
“Pakistan is facing an acute shortage of qualified doctors as female doctors who get admission on open merit get higher seats in colleges and universities, following the abolishment of the quota back in 1989,” Dr. Sajjad said.
Add to that the government spending around Rs5 million ($69,000) on each doctor as part of their five-year education and house job program, which amounts to a loss of Rs 175 billion ($2.3 billion) – based on 35,000 women doctors quitting the profession – to the exchequer since 1989, DUHS data shows.
Therefore, with the help of a Virtual Training and TeleHealth platform named Educast – which is a joint venture by overseas Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia and those within Pakistan – the eDoctor program id “expected to recoup some of the losses in the long run by bringing back these female doctors in to the services,” Dr. Wahid said.
“EduCast is an organization formed by Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia and those in Pakistan for the educational growth of Pakistani children enrolled in gulf countries. For the eDoctor program, Dow University provides academic material while EduCast offers technological operations,” Abdullah Butt, CEO of EduCast told Arab News.
“I’ve been out of practice for the past 10 years and now I have got an opportunity. We cannot apply here due to lack of experience even for participating in exams. I have joined to refresh and to apply here. Lectures attended have boosted my confidence that I can make a comeback,” Dr. Uzma Qazi, a 39-year-old resident of Abu Dhabi, who graduated in 2003, told Arab News.
The program is also helping those who are already employed elsewhere to attain higher excellence.
“I moved to Saudi Arabia back in 2009 after marriage. I am already working in the medical sector here but need academic update to appear in exams because it is requirement,” Dr, Ghania Nadeem, a 38-year-old GP in Jeddah told Arab News.
Prior to the launch of the program, all participants are given a 15-day online crash course at home, following which they are trained to give first line of treatment – including writing prescriptions, advising patients online and even specializing in their field of interest.
“There exists huge potential for such doctors,” Dr. Zarnaz said adding, “We are planning to open E-consultant clinics from where these doctors will take calls from their homes and advise accordingly. They will have financial benefit as well.”


Pakistan beats India 2-1 in Karate Combat 45 competition in Dubai 

Updated 9 min 28 sec ago
Follow

Pakistan beats India 2-1 in Karate Combat 45 competition in Dubai 

  • Pakistan’s Shahzaib Rind beats India’s Rana Singh to seal the win 2-1 
  • Karate Combat hosts bouts between skilled fighters from various countriesHANK

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan edged India out 2-1 in the Karate Combat 45 competition in Dubai on Saturday night, with an “unstoppable” Shahzaib Rind convincingly beating India’s Rana Singh to seal the win. 

Karate Combat is a professional martial arts league featuring full-contact karate bouts. Karate Combat hosts events around the world, showcasing bouts between skilled fighters from different weight classes and countries. 

The match between the two countries was decided in the final round after Pakistan’s Rizwan Ali and India’s Himanshu Kaushik won the first and second competition of the match, respectively. 

“Shahzaib Rind is just unstoppable inside the pit!” Karate Combat wrote on social media platform X. “Pakistan beats India 2-1 with this victory.”

The competition began with Ali facing India’s Pawan Gupta. The bout was a one-sided one, with Ali knocking out Gupta soon earlier on and ending the match in Pakistan’s favor. 

India then leveled the match when its fighter Himanshu Kaushik overcame Pakistan’s Faizan Khan in the second fixture, making it 1-1 before Rind delivered decisive blows to Singh to seal the victory for Pakistan 2-1. 

The fixture between India and Pakistan was a much-awaited one, especially due to the pre-match hype between fighters of the two countries. 

At a pre-match news conference on Friday, Rind slapped Singh before both were separated by their team members. The video of the altercation went viral on social media. 


AI’s relentless rise gives journalists tough choices

Updated 20 April 2024
Follow

AI’s relentless rise gives journalists tough choices

  • Generative AI has been opening new frontiers as well as raising concerns for a year and a half
  • Media professionals agree their trade must now focus on tasks offering the greatest ‘added value’

PERUGIA: The rise of artificial intelligence has forced an increasing number of journalists to grapple with the ethical and editorial challenges posed by the rapidly expanding technology.
AI’s role in assisting newsrooms or transforming them completely was among the questions raised at the International Journalism Festival in the Italian city of Perugia that closes on Sunday.
AI tools imitating human intelligence are widely used in newsrooms around the world to transcribe sound files, summarise texts and translate.
In early 2023, Germany’s Axel Springer group announced it was cutting jobs at the Bild and Die Welt newspapers, saying AI could now “replace” some of its journalists.
Generative AI — capable of producing text and images following a simple request in everyday language — has been opening new frontiers as well as raising concerns for a year and a half.
One issue is that voices and faces can now be cloned to produce a podcast or present news on television. Last year, Filipino website Rappler created a brand aimed at young audiences by converting its long articles into comics, graphics and even videos.
Media professionals agree that their trade must now focus on tasks offering the greatest “added value.”
“You’re the one who is doing the real stuff” and “the tools that we produce will be an assistant to you,” Google News general manager Shailesh Prakash told the festival in Perugia.
The costs of generative AI have plummeted since ChatGPT burst onto the scene in late 2022, with the tool designed by US start-up OpenAI now accessible to smaller newsrooms.
Colombian investigative outlet Cuestion Publica has harnessed engineers to develop a tool that can delve into its archives and find relevant background information in the event of breaking news.
But many media organizations are not making their own language models, which are at the core of AI interfaces, said University of Amsterdam professor Natali Helberger. They are needed for “safe and trustworthy technology,” he stressed.
According to one estimate last year by Everypixel Journal, AI has created as many images in one year as photography in 150 years.
That has raised serious questions about how news can be fished out of the tidal wave of content, including deepfakes.
Media and tech organizations are teaming up to tackle the threat, notably through the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity, which seeks to set common standards.
“The core of our job is news gathering, on-the-ground reporting,” said Sophie Huet, recently appointed to become global news director for editorial innovation and artificial intelligence at Agence France-Presse.
“We’ll rely for a while on human reporters,” she added, although that might be with the help of artificial intelligence.
Media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders, which has expanded its media rights brief to defending trustworthy news, launched the Paris Charter on AI and journalism late last year.
“One of the things I really liked about the Paris Charter was the emphasis on transparency,” said Anya Schiffrin, a lecturer on global media, innovation and human rights at Columbia University in the United States.
“To what extent will publishers have to disclose when they are using generative IA?“
Olle Zachrison, head of AI and news strategy at public broadcaster Swedish Radio, said there was “a serious debate going on: should you mark out AI content or should people trust your brand?“
Regulation remains in its infancy in the face of a constantly evolving technology.
In March, the European Parliament adopted a framework law aiming to regulate AI models without holding back innovation, while guidelines and charters are increasingly common in newsrooms.
AI editorial guidelines are updated every three months at India’s Quintillion Media, said its boss Ritu Kapur.
None of the organization’s articles can be written by AI and the images it generates cannot represent real life.
AI models feed off data, but their thirst for the vital commodity has raised hackles among providers.
In December, the New York Times sued OpenAI and its main investor Microsoft for violation of copyright.
In contrast, other media organizations have struck deals with OpenAI: Axel Springer, US news agency AP, French daily Le Monde and Spanish group Prisa Media whose titles include El Pais and AS newspapers.
With resources tight in the media industry, collaborating with the new technology is tempting, explained Emily Bell, a professor at Columbia University’s journalism school.
She senses a growing external pressure to “Get on board, don’t miss the train.”


Pakistan’s Rizwan completes fastest 3,000 T20I runs

Updated 20 April 2024
Follow

Pakistan’s Rizwan completes fastest 3,000 T20I runs

  • Pakistan took a 1-0 lead in the five-match series against New Zealand with the first game washed out
  • This was Rizwan’s 79th Twenty20 innings, beating his skipper Babar Azam and Indian great Virat Kohli

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan’s Mohammad Rizwan became the fastest batsman to complete 3,000 runs in Twenty20 international cricket during the second match against New Zealand in Rawalpindi on Saturday.
The 31-year-old reached the milestone when he reached 19 during his innings of 45 not out which helped Pakistan chase down a modest 91-run target in 12.1 overs for a seven-wicket victory.
This was Rizwan’s 79th Twenty20 innings, beating his skipper Babar Azam and Indian great Virat Kohli who both completed 3,000 runs in 81 T20I innings.
Rizwan is the eighth batsman to score 3,000 or more runs in Twenty20 internationals with Kohli top of the charts with 4,037 in 117 matches.
Pakistan took a 1-0 lead in the five-match series with the first game washed out after just two balls, also in Rawalpindi, on Thursday.


Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif to visit China in May — state media

Updated 20 April 2024
Follow

Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif to visit China in May — state media

  • The development comes amid efforts to restore China’s confidence in Islamabad regarding various projects
  • Scaled-back CPEC projects, attacks on Chinese nationals have lately strained ties between the two countries

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will visit China in May to restore Beijing’s confidence in Islamabad with regard to various projects, Pakistani state media reported on Saturday, citing a senior official.
Beijing is investing over $65 billion in energy and infrastructure projects in Pakistan as part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a major segment of its Belt and Road Initiative designed to give China a shorter, more secure trading route to the Middle East and beyond, while also boosting Pakistan’s economy.
Since its initiation in 2013, CPEC has seen tens of billions of dollars funnelled into massive transport, energy and infrastructure projects. But the undertaking has also been hit by Pakistan struggling to keep up its financial obligations as well as attacks on Chinese targets by militants.
Rana Mashhood, chairman of Prime Minister’s Youth Program, said PM Sharif wanted to make Pakistan a partner in economic development, which was why he was striving to bring investment from Pakistan’s friendly countries.
“From May 14, the Prime Minister will make an official visit to the People’s Republic of China, which will restore the confidence of the brotherly neighboring country and the CPEC project will move toward success quickly,” Mashhood was quoted as saying by the state-run APP news agency.
The comments came during his visit to China Window, a Chinese cultural center, in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. On the occasion, Mashhood visited different galleries at the center, signed the friendship wall and recorded his comments in the visitor’s book.
Beijing has been one of Islamabad’s most reliable foreign partners in recent years, readily providing financial assistance to bail out its often-struggling neighbor. In July last year, China granted Pakistan a two-year rollover on a $2.4 billion loan, giving the debt-saddled nation much-needed breathing space as it tackled a balance-of-payments crisis.
But ties have been strained by numerous hurdles in recent years, including scaled-back CPEC projects and attacks on Chinese workers in Pakistan. In the latest attack, five Chinese nationals and their Pakistani driver were killed in a suicide bombing in northwest Pakistan on March 26.
Mashhood appreciated the establishment of the Chinese cultural center in Peshawar and said it would be a pivotal hub for further enhancing the bond between Pakistan and China, according to the APP report.
Recognizing the importance of foreign languages for the country’s youth, the official said he had instructed relevant institutions to initiate language programs tailored to meet the diverse needs of different countries.
“He specifically mentioned plans to include the Chinese language in the programs offered by the National Commission for Technical and Vocational Training,” the report read.


Pakistan trounce depleted New Zealand in second T20

Updated 20 April 2024
Follow

Pakistan trounce depleted New Zealand in second T20

  • Shaheen led the attack with 3-13 while Amir, returning to international cricket after nearly four years, finished with 2-13
  • Rizwan finished with 45 not out with a six and four boundaries to ensure Pakistan chased down a modest target in 12.1 overs

RAWALPINDI: Left-armers Shaheen Shah Afridi and Mohammad Amir shared five wickets to rock New Zealand for a paltry 90 before Mohammad Rizwan anchored the chase to help Pakistan win the second Twenty20 clash Saturday in Rawalpindi.
Shaheen led the attack with 3-13 while Amir, returning to international cricket after nearly four years, finished with 2-13 as the visitors were bowled out in 18.1 overs after being sent in to bat.
Rizwan finished with 45 not out off 34 balls with a six and four boundaries to ensure Pakistan chased down a modest target in 12.1 overs and take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
The first match, also in Rawalpindi, was washed out after just two deliveries on Thursday.
New Zealand did fight back with wickets of Saim Ayub (four), Babar Azam (14) and debutant Usman Khan (seven) but Muhammad Irfan Khan (run-a-ball 18) partnered Rizwan in an unfinished 36-run stand to seal victory.
Ayub hit a boundary off the first ball of the innings before giving a return catch to pacer Ben Lister off the next while Azam was stumped off rival skipper Michael Bracewell and Usman bowled by spinner Ish Sodhi.
Earlier Amir -- returning to international cricket after nearly four years -- jolted New Zealand in the opening overs.
Amir retired abruptly in 2020 after he was dropped from the team, the second break in his career after he was banned for five years in a spot-fixing scandal in 2010.
Spinners Abrar Ahmed (2-15) and Shadab Khan (2-15) doubled the pressure as New Zealand were dismissed for their second lowest total against Pakistan in the game's shortest format.
Mark Chapman (19), Cole McConchie (15), Dean Foxcroft (13) and Tim Seifert (13) were the only batsmen to reach double figures.
Chapman hit three boundaries in his 16-ball knock.
New Zealand's lowest T20I total against Pakistan is 80, made at Christchurch in 2010.
Fast bowler Naseem Shah, also playing his first match since injuring his shoulder in September last year, took 1-27 in four overs.
Both teams are preparing for the Twenty20 World Cup to be held in June in the United States and the West Indies.
New Zealand are missing a host of their top players due to playing in the ongoing Indian Premier League, unavailability and injuries.
The remaining matches are in Rawalpindi on Sunday followed by the last two in Lahore on April 25 and 27.