Pakistan and Gulf Economist travelled to Tando Ebrahim Bawany, Shaikh Bhirkio, District Tando Muhammad Khan, Sindh to get the first-hand information about the free medical facilities being provided to the underprivileged.
Free medical camps for children, women, young and old are organized by Faran Sugar Mills Limited where many diseases are treated so that the masses may get the benefit. Surgery for eye-related diseases is conducted free of cost for all patients regardless of their cast, creed, gender etc. Lenses/glasses are offered free of cost and there is also arrangement for free mobile medical camp to benefit the maximum number of the people. A team of doctors comprising males and females are available for the patients who come not only from the adjacent but also from far-off places.
PAGE had interaction with Mr Riaz Javed Suleri, Resident Director Faran Sugar Mills and Dr Nisar Ahmed Memon, one of the leading eye specialists of Pakistan.
The excerpts of the conversation with Mr Riaz Javed Suleri are as follows:
Medical facilities were almost non-existent in the year 2002 in this area though there is somewhat improvement recently. I thought of giving back to the society. I thought that my duty is not only to run the sugar mills but also to think of the betterment of the people or at least of those who provide sugarcane to the mills. The idea was to provide free medical facility. I started off in the year 2002 with the budget of mere Rs10,000/-(ten thousand rupees). We got the medicine for this amount, displayed a banner on the vehicle and went to an adjacent village along with a doctor and a dispenser. Hundreds of villagers wanted to get medical treatment in our first camp and we were unable to serve everyone. Looking at the burgeoning number of people for medical facilities compelled me to increase the budget so that we may serve every patient. I discussed this with the late Amin Bawany, former chairman Faran Sugar Mills, who encouraged and supported me which was a big motivation for me.
By the grace of God, we have spent millions of rupees on the treatment of the patients so far and have treated thousands of patients. We have got dispensary not only for the employees of the mills but also for others who may come and get medicine without charges from our dispensary. We have been treating the needy patients for last 16 years. We take care of our employees in terms of healthcare. Our 900 employees went through hepatitis test and 46 were declared positive with hepatitis. They all were treated and today there is almost no employee with hepatitis in our sugar mills. A couple of employees with cancer were treated at the expense of our organization. A few employees went through heart bypass and all expenses were paid by our organization. We do focus on public welfare.
The excerpts of the conversation with Dr Nisar Ahmed Memon are as follows:
I have been leading the free-eye camp at Faran Sugar Mills for more than a decade. Patients are provided with a separate bed, free meals, and congenial environment. Hundreds of people from across the area visit the free eye camp organized by Faran Sugar Mills. During the free eye camp, patients get the facility of free eye testing along with number of their eye glasses and the eye-glasses are provided free of cost on the spot so that the patients may not have to go elsewhere and suffer. The best thing to note during the free eye camp is that the children of the employees of Faran Sugar Mills volunteer to take care of the needy patients. Phacoemulsification is a modern cataract surgery. During the camp, more than 150 patients get benefit of cataract surgery free of cost at Faran Sugar Mills. Majority of the patients do stay for a couple of days within the premises of Faran Sugar Mills and are taken care of and are provided everything free of cost right from stay to free meals. There is increase of at least 150-200 patients every year in OPD and the same trend has been witnessed for the cataract surgery. Two to three months before the conduct of the camp, people are apprised of it so that maximum number of patients may visit the free eye camp. Some patients come even after the duration of the free medical camps, however, they are also treated and are never sent back.
PAGE also had interaction with a few patients who gave their views on the medical facilities being offered without charges. Nag Jee, a resident of a village four kilometers away from Faran Sugar Mills, told us that he was being treated and provided medicine without any charges. Faqeera, a villager, was all praise for the doctors and the treatment. Mujahid Ali was also satisfied with the medical facilities. It was surprising to know that people from even Karachi, Hyderabad, Nawabshah, Thatta, Sajawal, Badin etc. come to avail the medical facility reasons being no charges and quality healthcare. Faran Sugar Mills bears the expenses of those patients also who are referred to some other city i.e. Hyderabad for medical treatment.