AKU’s Healthcare Symposium: ‘Gender Bias Has Created a Gap in Medicine, One Where We Are and Where We Need to Be’

akus-gap-1024x768 AKU's Healthcare Symposium: 'Gender Bias Has Created a Gap in Medicine, One Where We Are and Where We Need to Be'

AKU’s Healthcare Symposium: ‘Gender bias has created a gap in medicine, One Where We Are and Where We Need to Be’

Imagine a child receiving a ‘pain-free invisible’ injection at an emergency department. The needle is hidden in a watch-like device with a hollow dial and a local anaesthetic at its base numbs the area of the needle’s insertion, thus making it pain-free.

The idea is the brainchild of Mir Ibrahim Sajid, a third-year student at the Aga Khan University’s Medical College, and one of the six presenters at an Ignite session – part of AKU’s 21st National Health Sciences Research Symposium that is focusing, this year, on ‘emergency care: time and life matter’.

Ignite, a speedy presentation series with just five minutes for 20 slides, is organised by AKU’s Critical Creative Innovative Thinking forum and is intended to light a spark in the audience to think differently.

Sajid continues “Given that patients, especially young patients, are often miserable in an emergency department, there is a chance that the needle might be dislocated from its position, leading to the skin becoming inflammed.”

“So this device, Pain Free Invisible Needle or PFIN, has an additional feature, a small chipset of a gyro sensor that records rotational movement of the watch. So when the recorded angular rotation is greater than a pre-fixed value, the chipset will send a signal to the nursing station to check the needle’s position,” explained the young entrepreneur while pitching his idea to potential investors.


“Research is an integral component of emergency medicine as it allows improvements in care for the patient and for the system” Dr Adnan Hyder


Ume-e-Aiman Chhipa, a graduate of Dow Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, shared the idea of red stripes from a hospital’s main gate all the way to the emergency department.

“Many people have lost their loved ones just because they couldn’t read signs or understand right-left paths well enough to find their way to the emergency department in a timely fashion,” she lamented. “Red Stripes or a GPS solution should take them directly to the emergency department.”

Maheen Khan, a final-year student and Mehek Narmeen, a third-year student both from Dow Medical College told the story of a student-run project First Response Initiative of Pakistan to teach first responders across the country how to react in an emergency, and to work towards a mass disaster task force for Karachi.

Earlier on the second day of the symposium, Dr Adnan Hyder, senior associate dean for research and professor of global health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University, talked about moral dilemmas in emergencies and challenges in applied ethics.

“Research is an integral component of emergency medicine as it allows improvements in care for the patient and for the system,” said Dr Hyder. “However, it is the responsibility of emergency care providers to consider ethical obligations while conducting research in the emergency room and the role of ethics committees to help create safe systems for learning in critical areas.”

In her talk, Dr Barbra Villona, an international emergency physician and American College of Emergency Physicians’ ambassador to Pakistan, explained what the current evidence shows about physician gender bias and why it needs to be addressed.

“Gender bias has created a gap in medicine but it is not a gap between men and women. It is a gap between where we are and where we need to be,” said Dr Villona.

akus-gap-1024x768 AKU's Healthcare Symposium: 'Gender Bias Has Created a Gap in Medicine, One Where We Are and Where We Need to Be'

In her talk, Dr Barbra Villona, an international emergency physician and American College of Emergency Physicians’ ambassador to Pakistan, explained what the current evidence shows about physician gender bias and why it needs to be addressed

Dr Taj Hassan, consultant in emergency medicine at the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, UK, talked about building a collaborative road for emergency medicine development in Pakistan, via a video link.

Other speakers of the day included Dr Nick Brown, a paediatrician and epidemiologist at the International Centre for Maternal and Child Health, Sweden, who has been closely affiliated with the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at AKU for several years; Dr Desmond Mao, an emergency physician at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, Singapore; and Dr Nathan S. Bryan, a molecular medicine expert, from Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.

The symposium continued till November 11. The concluding day will cover discussions on impacting paediatric emergency care in Sindh, instilling creativity and innovation for the child in the emergency department, and school preparedness for emergencies.