Women have been slowly but surely breaking the barriers that have been set for them in the past centuries. A beauty queen with Down’s syndrome made history, single mothers run startup companies, more women are fighting back against sexual harassment and even lead hundreds of people to resuscitate a dead river.
Here’s to another amazing woman. A female Pakistani doctor recognized the odds stacked against physicians in her context, and acted to provide more flexible options for women in the medical industry. Dr. Iffat Aga founded a platform to connect home-based female doctors to poor communities.
Sehat Kahani is a revolutionary tele-health platform that connects at-home, out-of-work doctors who can provide quality health care to underprivileged patients in low and middle-income markets.
The organization currently constitutes a network of 14 facilities across Pakistan which have served more than 550,000 patients. When a patient visits the clinic, a nurse logs their basic medical history, and then doctors are called in to continue the consultation through a video conferencing system.
The percentage of women in local medical schools are higher than those of men, but less than half of these women eventually end up as practitioners because they believe they need to nurture their families first. Because of the responsibility weighing down on them, female doctors stop pursuing their careers. Dr. Iffat knew this problem needed a solution, so she partnered up with women who similarly understood — and perhaps personally experienced — the crisis, and together they built Sehat Kehani.
With a vision to create an all-female health provider network, Sehat Kahani simultaneously promotes women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship, and the basic need for affordable, quality healthcare in rural and urban communities – all without the doctors ever having to leave their homes.
It is truly an inspirational balancing act to target both the issues of gender inequality and poverty at the same time. Women are not only fighting for their own rights; they are doing so in order to join larger fights.
When it comes to health, hospitals are necessary but hardly ever enjoyable. Despite the rise of surgical robots, many prefer to self-diagnose. Still, Google remains a breeding ground for hypochondriacs, in spite of Apple’s efforts to create health-centered mobiles. To make pediatric wards a little less daunting, Disney is donating $100 million to institutes around the globe.
“Disney’s timeless stories have touched hearts and lifted spirits for generations, and we believe they can bring comfort to children and families going through a very difficult time,” [said] Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company.
Disney will be bringing games, entertainment, and movie magic into infirmaries. Familiar characters will likely put children at greater ease and perhaps even pull some laughs. Patient rooms will be laden with murals (Disney-themed, of course), and staff will undergo extra training.
“The renowned Disney Institute, a part of The Walt Disney Company that provides professional development training focused on leadership, employee engagement and high quality service, will create a customized program for healthcare professionals designed to foster a less stressful, patient and family-centric hospital experience,”
Truth be told, I’d be slightly less nervous getting my blood drawn by Mickey Mouse. Or, if not, who doesn’t love Pluto?
For any salon-goer, a parlor doesn’t scream anything beyond style and fashion. Occasionally, an outstanding citizen will go out of his way to tailor the homeless. Still, barbershops are mostly all about the weave — unless you run A New You in L.A. The one-of-a-kind boutique treats its African American customers for high blood pressure, among other trendy services.
“There’s open communication in a barbershop. There’s a relationship, a trust,” said Eric Muhammad, owner of A New You Barbershop, one of the barbers who participated. “We have a lot more influence than just the doctor walking in the door.”
Biologically, black men see higher blood pressure rates, reading spikes up to 130. Prone to strokes and heart attacks, they are often in need of more significant medical attention than others. In cooperation with churches and community groups, A New You is bringing pharmacists into the hair world.
“This is a home run … high-touch medicine,” said one independent expert, Eileen Handberg, a heart researcher at the University of Florida in Gainesville. “Most drug trials only dream about such good results, yet they were achieved in a regular community setting,” she said.
Props, Mr. Muhammad! Never hurts to be cautious around razors.
If robots have become capable of performing complex surgeries, surely they can begin to replace traditional doctors. Such is the case with Xiaoyi, a machine that recently passed China’s medical licensing exam.
“Since 2013, more than half of the questions in the test are about [patient] cases,” [said engineer] Wu [Ji]… “So it’s impossible to purely rely on memorising and searches.”
To earn a score of 456 out of a perfect 600, developers programmed Xiaoyi to link words and phrases. In doing so, the “Little Doctor” learned to reason — an impressive but also intimidating feat.
“What it can do most at present is make suggestions to doctors, to help them identify problems quicker and avoid some risks,” Wu said.
Still, Xiaoyi won’t be flying solo anytime soon. After all, there’s nothing like the reassurance you get from a human being — especially when they’re holding a needle!
As it becomes less of a stigma, mental health is finally receiving the attention it deserves. People are embracing their conditions thanks to online tools like DIY therapy and help hotlines. Notwithstanding, feeling vulnerable and ashamed remains a looming issue — one that Sweden is tackling firsthand. Countering rising suicide rates, Stockholm has introduced the world’s first mental health ambulance.
Inside the ambulance is a warm, inviting area equipped with comfortable seats instead of medical equipment, two mental health nurses and one paramedic.
The Psychiatric Emergency Response Team attends to roughly 130 calls monthly, countering 15,000 attempts annually. So far, the ambulance’s success rate has risen steadily.
“I can’t see any reason as to why the project shouldn’t continue,” [Mental Health Emergency head Fredrik] Bengtsson said. “It has been considered a huge success by police, nurses, healthcare officials, as well as by the patients.”
It sounds as though Sweden is the first to get things right. If mental illness is as urgent as physical trauma, why not treat it as such?
Gene editing in healthcare isn’t a novel procedure, but has been seeing fairly recent breakthroughs. The technique has brought us closer to curing paralysis and “butterfly” disease. But in an ambitious first, scientists at Benioff Children’s Hospital have attempted to rewrite DNA in a live patient to cure a rare genetic disorder.
“This is opening up a whole new field of medicine,” said Sandy Macrae, president of Sangamo Therapeutics, which funded the trial. “You can imagine all the diseases that now become possible to treat when you can put in a new copy of the gene, or turn it up or turn it down.”
The experimental patient suffered from Hunter syndrome, which damages organs due to lack of a particular enzyme. Researchers have yet to report on the new method’s success. With only some 12 gene editing trials in progress, the study has a lot to prove but, on the whole, seems promising.
Eric Topol, a geneticist and cardiologist at the Scripps Translational Science Institute, called the new trial “a very important milestone.”
“I’ve been following medicine over 30 years. I’ve never seen anything move at this velocity,”
Thanks to an abundance of brand new technology, gene therapy is getting the boost it deserves. Hopefully it’ll see its patients through to a happy ending.
An avalanche of medical successes this year are sharing a common theme — genes. Gene editing is allowing researchers to more efficiently remedy conditions such as paralysis and leukemia. Though initially an unlikely candidate, gene therapy is now also instrumental in treating junctional epidermolysis bullosa. It saw its first triumph on a “butterfly boy” in Germany.
[Doctors] took a patch of non-blistered skin from the boy’s leg and used a virus to carry a corrected version of the bad DNA into his skin cells.
They grew grafts of the corrected skin and, in three separate operations over several months, replaced the missing skin.
Considering most “butterfly children” don’t make it past 30, genetic skin grafting could make an impact commercially. The therapy corrects stem cells, regenerating healthy substitutes. Since his discharge, the German schoolboy has remained healthy, living without the need for medication.
“This is really the way to go. You can get to the patients early before they have all the complications and suffering,”
With a growing population of “butterfly children”, this breakthrough could potentially relieve a giant itching epidemic.
2017 has been a year of breakthroughs in medicine. From 3D printing brain tissue to the accidental discovery of origami organs, it’s been smooth sailing for the science world. A group of doctors from the University of Rochester Medical Center saved not only a music teacher’s life, but also his music function.
“Removing a tumor from the brain can have significant consequences depending upon its location. Both the tumor itself and the operation to remove it can damage tissue and disrupt communication between different parts of the brain. It is, therefore, critical to understand as much as you can about each individual patient.”
Substitute music teacher Dan Fabbio was suffering from a tumor near the center of his brain. Neurosurgeons used a brain mapping program to treat Fabbio and studied the patient for six months. In order to ensure that the operation was a success, Fabbio played his saxophone directly after surgery.
“It made you want to cry. He played it flawlessly and when he finished the entire operating room erupted in applause.”
While my saxophone-playing skills may be parallel to that of a squealing pig, it’s good to know that this musical genius got to retain his.