Dr. S. Tipu Sultan
By Syed M. Aslam
Nov 05 - 11, 2001
Dr. Tipu Sultan is the Honorary President of Pakistan
Medical Association. He seems to take pride in his humble beginnings —
he lived in and completed his early education in Lyari, one of Karachi's
oldest locality and its most neglected and deprived still. He did his
schooling at his father's school Ghazi Mohammad Bin Qasim, which today
is also a college. In 1967-68 he did his MBBS from Dow Medical College
and proceeded to the UK three years later where he earned Diploma in
Anaesthesia (DA). In 1976, he became a Fellow of Faculty of Anaesthesia
of Royal College of Surgeons (FFARCS). He stayed in the UK for seven
years and returned to Karachi in 1977 where he joined Civil Hospital,
with which he remains associated till today. Today, he is a professor
and the Head of the Department of Anaesthesia as well as the Surgical
Intensive Care Unit.
PAGE: Would you like to comment on concerns
about Antharax attacks here in Pakistan?
Dr. Tipu Sultan: Anthrax as a disease has been
around for hundreds of years, particularly in Asia, Africa and many
parts of the US. It is basically a cattle-related disease which is
non-contagious: in its natural form it can not be transferred from
animals to humans or from humans to humans. This is why human beings
over the centuries have remained immune to the disease in its natural
form despite living in close proximity with the cattle and close
contacts with their skin and hair, the major source of disease. However,
the anthrax now making rounds in envelopes is an engineered
weapons-grade bacteria which is deadly only if not urgently treated
after the exposure.
PAGE: Can the anthrax be developed in a
Dr. Tipu Sultan: Countries in the Third-World
neither has the technology nor the resources to manufacture the type of
weapons-grade anthrax which requires highly technical process and
immense funds. Only the developed countries have the means and resources
to manufacture weapons-grade deadly anthrax bacteria. While there are
three kinds of anthrax — lung, skin and intestines — it is the only
first which can be deadly and that too only if inhaled in a sizeable
quantity. Inhaling of over 8,000 spores, cells produced by the bacteria,
is deadly and anything less is not so dangerous. On an average just
about 20-30 per cent of the people can be exposed to this lethal amount
meaning that even in case of 'real' anthrax attacks a good 70 per cent
of the attacks are not lethal.
PAGE: Are there any medicines available here
to treat anthrax?
Dr Tipu Sultan: Yes, a range of anthrax
medicines is easily available at affordable prices. They are
manufactured both by the multinationals as well as the local
pharmaceutical companies and are both curative and preventive. The names
of these medicines are: Amoxicillin, Doxycycline, Ciprosloxacine,
Ofloxacin, Levofloxacin and Penicillin G.
PAGE: What are the symptoms of anthrax?
Dr Tipu Sultan: Cough and cold plus a chest
infection are the initial symptoms followed by fever and difficulty in
breathing. One should consult a good physician if one suspects that he
was exposed to anthrax bacteria.
PAGE: Tell us more about the Surgical ICU unit
at the Civil Hospital?
Dr Tipu Sultan: The unit was established in
1991 when funds of Rs 15 million were collected within just one year.
The unit provides free-of-cost surgery-related services, both pre and
post, to severely ill patients. Needless to say, such treatment is
prohibitively expensive by any standard costing an average of Rs 20,000
per day per patient. It has the privilege to treat patients referred by
every government and private hospitals in the city, including such
renowned hospital as Aga Khan. A big percentage of our patients include
those who cannot afford such highly expensive treatment and also those
who go bankrupt paying for the medical expenses. We have state-of-the
art equipment including 7 ventilators each of which cost Rs 1.2 million
each. The 8-bed unit is a classical example of public and government
partnership the entire funds for which come from philanthropists and
provides the best services which are at par with the best hospital in
the private sector. The doctors and paramedical staff are government
servants while drugs and medicines are all sponsored to help keep the
expenses at the lowest level. There are 3 senior doctors, 4 junior
doctors, 22 paramedics and a staff of four in reception.
PAGE: Are you satisfied with the performance
of the private medical colleges?
Dr Tipu Sultan: No, they are just a front for
minting money and are creating a surplus of sub-standard doctors. They
are producing 'quacks with degrees' to further aggravate an already bad
job situation for some 6,000 doctors produced in the country each year
by the recognized institutions. This also poses a serious threat to the
public health. The government should close all unrecognized medical
colleges, both government and private, to stop the mushroom growth of
institutes which severely lacks qualified faculty, purpose-built