In this exclusive interview with Youth Time, Anmol Zehra, a medical school graduate from Dow University of Health Sciences, Pakistan, shares her own venture, named ‘Health Matters’, which she initiated to create digital health solutions to meet the medical needs of health consumers in rural and urban societies. ‘Health Matters’ is a digital platform that connects efficient, underutilized doctors with patients with limited resources and unmet needs.
Also serving as a frontline health worker during pandemic COVID-19, Anmol Zehra finds inspiration in the little things in life, keeping a keen eye for discovering the small wonders that surround us all, and drawing energy from the sense of wonderment that drives her to achieve her goals, and which she infuses into those around her.
She believes the journey is more important than the destination, and helps her trainees seek different pathways for them to enrich their skills, making her training a unique blend of emotional, psychological, and mental growth and evolution.
A certified trainer since 2013, she has worked with multiple national and international organizations across different sectors.
Over the last six years, she has trained thousands of youngsters, teachers, and professionals.
51% of Pakistan’s population doesn’t have access to basic healthcare facilities
Zehra works toward creating “A community of healthy individuals with access to health facilities and compassionate healthcare systems in Pakistan.”
According to her, healthcare in Pakistan is a discordant riddle, with limitations and counter-productive fundamentals.
It is recorded that more than 51% of Pakistan’s entire population is deprived of basic healthcare facilities.
She shares the main challenges and shortcomings that she encounters in her work.
“The problem is ingrained, with basic healthcare services unobtainable in rural areas, apathetic behavior, brain drained doctors, dissatisfied medical graduates in terms of facilities and the security provided to doctors, and more and more medical graduates moving out of the country, and the list goes on when you focus on the problems.”
“This is an alarming scenario, especially for a country that is producing more than 170,000 doctors and 40,000 specialists every year, and despite the increase in the production of medical professionals, the situation remains questionable.
The stark fact remains the same, and that is SUFFERING, suffering of the weak and the strong, with unsatisfactory lives and improper mental health.”
Her initiative aims to provide the opportunity to reach out through the internet to people who are living in far-flung areas, creating a digital platform to connect efficient, underutilized doctors with patients who have minimal resources and unmet needs.
She elaborates on how this is going so far, by first mentioning that this initiative is extremely close to her heart because as a health professional, she wants patients’ satisfaction, patients’ empowerment, autonomy, compliance, and adherence.
“Health Matters” as an awareness campaign
With a prime focus on telemedicine, Health Matters has already provided health services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Besides telehealth services, Health Matters is focused on awareness campaigns and building the capacity of doctors, nurses, and women health workers.
Using social media as a means to spread mass awareness, we have created public service message videos to stop the spread of misinformation and provide the right information to people in the community.”
“Under the same umbrella, Health Matters is working specifically on SRHRJ where we are creating comics for teenagers to understand body image, self-confidence, puberty, sexual health, and self-defense through fun comics.”
The comic book is given the name of Chupan Chupai which means “hide and seek” in English whereas the project itself is titled Shaoor, meaning consciousness.”
Using technology as a facilitator
She continues the discussion with our Youth Time contributor by explaining how she ensures health solutions by using technology and innovation as mediums to contribute to the betterment of healthcare systems.
“With the rise in technology, it has become easier to reach people in remote areas where they lack basic health care facilities.
Overall, this has helped people with poor economic status”, she acknowledges, by adding the following explanation.
“It has created employment opportunities for women doctors who couldn’t practice because of the social pressure of home maintenance for women. By using technology, these underutilized, talented doctors are able to generate income, make use of their learning, and reach out to those in need.”
Thanks to this opportunity, people in small villages with no access to good healthcare facilities are now able to get treatment while sitting at home without traveling miles to see the doctor in person.
The young making important contributions
This program involves youth at their best, and Zehra highly appreciates their helping hand.
“Young People are already making important contributions in all stages of development work, have demonstrated their capabilities, and have the right to information in humanitarian crises.
Therefore, the participation of youth in the different campaigns of this project is benefiting them along with families and communities.
It is contributing to their education and development.
It has helped young people to protect themselves from abuse and exploitation.”
Carpe Diem – an urge to strive for the best
Probably every one of us is familiar with the popular phrase “Carpe Diem” (Seize the Day). It encapsulates Zehra’s philosophy perfectly – so that her training is always full of energy and enthusiasm.
She explains the relationship between this and being part of a family where education is not given the importance it deserves and girls are not urged to acquire higher education.
“My struggle to pass through those barriers has made me resilient and confident.”
“The experience of backlash and resistance at every step has made me strong enough to fight for my rights and the rights of others.
It has helped me to differentiate between right and wrong and has made me strive for the best in the world.
I have made education my purpose of life, and making it easier for girls in my country has become my motto.”
Such experiences have made her believe in living in the moment and making the best of each minute of it.
“For me, my enthusiasm and energy matter the most to my participants. Your energy level affects the group as a whole.
If I had low energy and just plodded along, my participants would, too.
If I remain engaged and interested, and have an appropriate energy level, so will the participants!
Now, when we’re talking ‘energy,’ it does not mean an exhausting whirlwind of movement, gestures, and loud voices.
It does mean bringing a sense of vibrancy to the learning environment.”
As we at Youth Time just recently celebrated the 12th of August, International Youth Day (IYD), Zehra shares one message she would like to give to young people everywhere.
“Take Personal Responsibility and stop Blame, Shame, Justification.
Instead of expecting others to do the work, start contributing however you can, whether it’s small or big, it will impact both you and others in the community.
Photos: Health Matters Initiative
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