A new startup company focused on increasing healthcare communication in India has hit a major milestone recently: Lybrate, a company that likens itself to Facebook (in terms of easy communication and sharing of information), announced that it successfully raised $10.2 million in funding.
The app functions as both a digital exam room and an online forum where people can ask educated health experts for their professional opinions on a certain illness or injury. Lybrate claims to have already secured a network of 80,000 doctors in India, and there already seems to be a flurry of user engagement as well.
As Tech in Asia reports, “There is significant user engagement on subjects related to sexual health, women’s health, and psychological problems.”
The fact that this app may allow Indian women to discuss medical care is nothing short of monumental. It comes at a time when women are so afraid to discuss menstruation, around 70% of reproductive problems are a result of poor menstrual hygiene, according to the Vancouver Observer.
There have been moderate improvements in terms of preventative women’s health, although perhaps one of the biggest improvements is the mere fact that men and women are becoming more comfortable talking about health-related topics that have long been considered taboo.
In fact, this new app may allow doctors and researchers to collect statistics on women’s health concerns in India; unless women are willing to speak up about their health conditions and illness, it’s impossible to collect data and measure just how serious the problem is.
In the U.S., for example, the topic of sexual health has become fairly comfortable to discuss in the exam room. However, experts estimate that bacterial infections still account for about 20 million cases of sexually transmitted infections in the U.S., and a large number of sexually active young women are never tested for STDs and STIs.
In a country where a man must distribute menstrual pads in order to make people listen, it isn’t surprising that Indian women are far less comfortable speaking about women’s health concerns — and it’s also easy to assume that bacterial infections run rampant in low-income communities.
The problem of poor sanitation was recently brought to the attention of the international community, the BBC reports, after WHO (World Health Organization) reported that an estimated 500 million Indians still cannot access lavatories, forcing many to use gutters, bushes, and bodies of water instead.
One new mobile app may not be enough to solve all of these problems — but it might just be the beginning of higher health standards in India.