Pakistani-American startup to take telehealth services to UAE, Saudi Arabia

This photograph taken on Oct. 20, 2017, shows a Pakistani paramedic checking a child at a telemedicine online treatment centre in Mansehra district, Khyber Pakhtukhwa. (AFP/File)
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Updated 09 August 2020

Pakistani-American startup to take telehealth services to UAE, Saudi Arabia

  • VeeMed, a startup, is also working on affordable solutions for Pakistani and Indian patients
  • The startup collaborated with Karachi’s Indus Hospital in the past and plans to do it again to help the underprivileged

KARACHI: A Pakistani-American startup has joined hands with a major business group in the United Arab Emirates to provide telehealth services to patients in the Middle East and beyond, the company’s president, Ijaz Arif, told Arab News on Friday. 

“We just formed a partnership with SEED, one of the most influential groups in the UAE, and this partnership spans over the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and India,” he said, adding that his company would extend the same services to people in the UAE and Saudi Arabia that it offered its clients in the United States since most residents of the two Arab states did not have affordability issues. 

“For places like Pakistan, India and North Africa, we will have to come up with new ways, new technologies that are affordable,” Arif continued. “We are working on that.” 

Arif informed that the charity wing of his organization, VeeMed, had collaborated with Indus Hospital, the largest charity health facility in Pakistan’s Sindh province, in the past to offer free medical services to the financially underprivileged segments. 

“We at one point were working with Indus Hospital in Pakistan. We will actually continue to do that in order to provide free technology and services to them. We are also planning to help different non-government organizations in the same way,” he said. 

Telehealth services have been available in the developed world for a considerably long period, but it only gained momentum in Pakistan with the COVID-19 outbreak when most medics started seeing patients online. 

VeeMed, the startup Arif cofounded with Dr. Arshad Ali in 2016, also acquired greater prominence during the same period and started extending its services to the Middle East and North Africa along with India and Pakistan. 

 

 

Ali, the cofounder of the company, said that telehealth was beneficial even when there was no pandemic. 

“In telemedicine, health care services can be delivered at home after a patient makes a request through an online system. A physician can then log in to do medical examination,” he explained. 

Ali added that patients in small cities and rural setups could avail the option since good doctors and specialists were usually not available in such areas. 

He informed that VeeMed also managed intensive care units (ICU) remotely in areas where senior doctors were not practicing by guiding medics online. 

“VeeMed is founded by overseas Pakistanis, and we have developed our own turnkey solutions for virtual health care,” he added. 

Meanwhile, Arif pointed out that technology had proved its worth during the coronavirus pandemic and it would continue to grow due to trending online health services. 

“Before the pandemic, such online services were not too common, but now people are getting used to it and realize how easy it is to see a doctor through this technology. Big health care systems, governments and clinics are not going to abandon its use even after the pandemic is over,” he said. 

“Our response time is less than three minutes,” Arif added. “We have even responded to people suffering stroke in two and a half minutes. Time is very important since it saves lives.” 


Pakistan to establish 18 markets on Afghanistan, Iran borders to boost trade, curb smuggling

Updated 18 September 2020

Pakistan to establish 18 markets on Afghanistan, Iran borders to boost trade, curb smuggling

  • Under the plan, the government will set up 12 markets along the border with Afghanistan and six along the Iran frontier
  • Prime minister approves setting up two border markets in Balochistan and one in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by February next year

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government has decided to set up markets along its borders with neighboring Afghanistan and Iran to boost trade opportunities, foster peace and check smuggling, the commerce ministry said on Friday.
Main crossing point into Pakistan for both goods and people from Iran and Afghan also serve as major smuggling routes.
“The border markets will help create job opportunities and establish a peaceful relationship with the neighboring countries,” Aisha Humera Moriani, joint-secretary at the Ministry of Commerce, told Arab News.
Under the plan, the government is establishing 18 markets: 12 along the border with Afghanistan and six along the Iran frontier.
In a meeting on Thursday, Prime Minister Imran Khan approved setting up two border markets in Balochistan and one in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province as a pilot project, to be functional by February next year.
Moriani said the markets would contribute to local development and help the government address “smuggling and boost legal trade across the border.”
Pakistan is fencing its borders with Afghanistan and Iran to check cross-border militancy, illegal movement of people and smuggling, which is a major source of income for people living along border towns and villages.
Sardar Shoukat Popalzai, President Balochistan Economic Forum, said the government should have built “common markets” along the Afghanistan and Iran borders with the mutual consent of the neighboring governments to maximize benefits for people on both sides of the borders.
“The government has not released a feasibility report, if there is any, of these markets as to how are they going to help the local population,” he told Arab News.
Popalzai said Balochistan border areas were sparsely populated and establishment of a few shopping terminals would “hardly make any difference in the lives of the people.”
He said cross-border smuggling was a major source of income for people living in the frontier areas of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, so “this requires a lot more effort than mere setting up of markets to check this undocumented economy.”
Zubair Motiwala, chairman of the Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the government should establish cold storages and warehouses in the border markets to boost the export of perishable and other items to the neighboring countries.
“The taxation system on the exports and imports of different items through the land routes should be well defined to encourage businessmen and locals to boost the legal trade with Afghanistan and Iran,” he said.