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A Place For The Poor To Count On

PAKISTAN & GULF ECONOMIST had exclusive conversation with Dr Farah A. Bari, Dr Samia Shuja, Dr Rehan and some patients at the Indus Hospital, Sheikh Saeed Memorial campus Korangi, Karachi about the free of cost quality medical treatment for the poor.

Dr Farah A. Bari is a trained hospital management professional and has always been passionate about mother and child healthcare. She is Senior Manager Administration and Heading the project of maternal and child health for the Indus Hospital, Sheikh Saeed Memorial campus Korangi, Karachi. Prior to her current job, she worked as Administrator in the Department of Emergency Obstetrics & Gynecology, Civil Hospital, Karachi.

Following are the excerpts of the conversation with Dr Farah A. Bari:

In June 2015, I was approached by one of the board members of the Indus Hospital and was requested to join and help them in terms of setting up a proper hospital for maternal and child health. I accepted the enormous challenge and joined, however, it must be noticed that when I joined the Sheikh Saeed campus, there was no proper infrastructure and no electricity. I inherited a hospital where there was no faculty etc. so I had to manage everything from scratch. Prior to my joining, the Sheikh Saeed campus was 40-bedded hospital running till 1pm in the afternoon everyday. The donor wanted the Indus Hospital to takeover and run Sheikh Saeed campus. The name of Sheikh Saeed campus is named after the father of the donor. The Indus Hospital took over Sheikh Saeed campus Korangi, Karachi in July 2015 and started Obstetrics & Gynecology services and we never looked back. We kept improving from 48-bedded to 70-bedded and now it is 80-bedded hospital.

Let me tell you that after just one year of our services, the donor was overjoyed by the work done by my team and he asked for anything, which could further be done to facilitate the patients. I mentioned the need of neonatal intensive-care unit (NICU) and did tell him that we don’t have space for it as well. He arranged space. Our partner for NICU equipment was Pakistan Petroleum Limited for which we are thankful to PPL. We promptly started NICU which is an intensive-care unit specializing in the care of ill or premature newborn infants. We did not have ventilators so we managed them since it was of great need and significance.

The management of Indus Hospital was kind enough to meet our demands for smooth functioning of the campus. Majority of our patients are from the poor families i.e. pushcart vendors, rickshaw drivers, laborers etc. Just imagine that if a child is born at 2 at night and the family needs emergency service due to whatever reason such as the cases of premature birth etc., where could such poor people go? The Indus Hospital, Sheikh Saeed campus is there to help them and we have been doing it over the period of last couple of years.

We are also working on capacity building by training our staff, doctors etc. Sheikh Saeed campus Korangi, Karachi handles more than 300 child delivery cases every month. We conduct more than 100 gynecologic surgeries including cancer surgeries. More than 200 patients are taken care of through OPD everyday. We offer all services comprising antenatal care both inpatient & outpatient including high risk pregnancies requiring multi-disciplinary input, Normal Deliveries, VBAC, Instrumental Deliveries, Post-natal Care, Primary Neonatal Care including Immunization as per EPI Program, C-section, Hysterectomy, Laparotomy, ERPC, MVA, all types of surgical procedures for Genital Prolapsed including Vaginal hysterectomy, 24 hours Obstetrics & Gynecology Emergency etc.

We ensure that mother and child do not have to go anywhere since we offer all services at Sheikh Saeed campus Korangi Karachi. There are integrated practice units (IPUs) also called centre of excellence in the world and our dream is to have such facilities here within the premises of Sheikh Saeed campus Korangi Karachi. It is my dream to make Sheikh Saeed campus Korangi, Karachi the centre of excellence for mother and child. The mission of the hospital is quality care and when we talk about quality, we talk about quality which we want for ourselves and exactly the same for our all patients whether they are from the poor or rich strata of the society. We have excellent faculty and excellent equipment. Let me tell you that we have successfully treated the patients regarding infertility and our patients are very satisfied in this regard.

Dr Samia Shuja (Shuja being her father’s name), Professor/Senior Consultant Obstetrics & Gynecology, the Indus Hospital, Sheikh Saeed Memorial campus Korangi, Karachi was approached by PAGE. She was born in Lahore and graduated from Allama Iqbal Medical College Lahore. She got married with an army officer and had to move to various cities as required by the job of any army officer. However, she was determined and completed her post graduate training. She was assistant professor in 2003 at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre Karachi and served there for around 12 years. Having reached at the acme of her career as professor, the top position, she felt as if something was missing which she actually wanted to do.

Following are the excerpts of the conversation with Dr Samia Shuja:

I wanted to do something great; something which I could feel proud of; something more organized; something more as excellence in my profession. Once as usual, on one of the Sundays, I was going through a newspaper and saw an opportunity to work at the Indus Hospital, Sheikh Saeed Memorial campus Korangi, Karachi. I applied and was appointed. Let me tell you that my stay here has been as great as I looked forward to.

I wish to see every patient happy and satisfied. It is very painful to hear the stories of the patients belonging to poor social class and I take it as my obligation to help them as much as I can. Majority of our patients are not able to afford basic necessities of life. Let me share a heart-wrenching story of a patient. Once a patient aged 24 years, a private-school teacher by profession, came whose hemoglobin was 2 grams whereas hemoglobin should be more than 11 to 12 grams in a woman. With 2 grams of hemoglobin, one may barely survive. Due to the scarcity of hemoglobin, that patient had lost almost all her hair. I wanted to admit her in the hospital for immediate treatment, however, she did not want to get admitted in the hospital for the treatment and wanted to continue to her school teaching job since it was her bread and butter and taking a few days off from school means deduction in her salary which she could not afford due to the dire poverty. Based on my consultation and insistence, she did concede to get admitted and treated. We treated her and after the treatment of two weeks, her hemoglobin was more than 9 grams. She recovered and was happy and thankful to us. I wonder how a person with such poor health could work. It was all poverty which compelled this poor patient to work with such poor health just for her bread and butter. Our aim is to help whoever we can.

Dr Rehan, a Neonatologist at Sheikh Saeed campus, told PAGE that neonatal unit was started around 8 months ago. Around 300 to 400 babies are being taken care of a year at this unit. All types of equipment are available for the treatment etc. He told us that if around 3000 babies are born a year at Sheikh Saeed campus, 10% of them are sick which comes to around 300 babies and the hospital has all sorts of facilities to treat such babies. In neonatal unit, there are 12 incubators and 05 ventilators. New born babies whether born at Sheikh Saeed campus or referred from other hospitals are taken care of.

Stories Of The Poor Patients:

Ms Saima, an infertility patient at the Indus Hospital, Sheikh Saeed campus Korangi, Karachi, resident of Korangi No.4 Karachi told PAGE that her husband earns around Rs 20,000/- (twenty thousand rupees) per month and they belonged to a poor class. When asked by PAGE about her treatment at Sheikh Saeed campus, she was jubilant that she was able to conceive having been treated at Sheikh Saeed Hospital for around a year. She visits the hospital almost once a month for treatment. Ms Saima told PAGE that in the era of high inflation and expensive medical treatment, it is blessing of God that Sheikh Saeed Hospital is there to help the needy by providing medical treatment free of cost with dignity. She was all praise for the staff, doctors etc. of the Sheikh Saeed hospital and was determined to let others know and convince that they must visit and get treated at the Indus Hospital, Sheikh Saeed campus Korangi, Karachi free of cost with dignity. When asked about her wish, she wished to have such hospitals everywhere in Pakistan and prayed for everyone working at Sheikh Saeed hospital.

Ms Saima Anis, a patient at the Indus Hospital Sheikh Saeed campus, gave birth to her ninth child. She is wife of a laborer who earns around Rs 700/- (seven hundred rupees) per day. She told PAGE that she did not need any reference or source to get free treatment in this hospital. As per her statement, everything from medicine to meals is provided free of cost with respect and the doctors as well as staff are very kind and caring.

Ms. Farzana, wife of a rickshaw driver, told PAGE that her husband earns around Rs 200/- (two hundred rupees) per day. She gave birth to her child 15 days ago and over the period of her 15 days stay at the Indus Hospital Sheikh Saeed campus, she has been treated quite well by the doctors and she has not paid anything. It was all free of cost not only for her but also for all patients.

Ms Noor Bibi from Larkana is under treatment at the Indus Hospital Sheikh Saeed campus and is thankful to God. She wishes to have a campus of the Indus Hospital in Larkana so that people living in Larkana may also get benefit. She expressed her determination to ask people living in her village and surroundings to go and get treated at the Indus Hospital since it is free of cost and there is no disparity between the poor and the rich.

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