Helping the helpless: Health facility houses patients, teaches midwives — for free

Students, patients at Koohi Goth Hospital given three free meals a day.

June 28, 2011


Mai Zarina has been recovering from surgery in the fistula ward of Koohi Goth Hospital (KHG), Landhi, since May 18. “No longer do I need to live in shame and hide myself from the rest of the world,” says the young woman from Jacobabad.

Zarina was diagnosed with enterovaginal fistula which is considered to be one of the most crippling and humiliating health complications for women in the developing world. Government hospitals brushed her off because she could not pay for her treatment. “This was my last resort. No other hospital was willing to accommodate me and I would have continued to rot away in darkness,” explains the mother of three.

Dr Shershah Syed, a reputable surgeon and the driving force behind the success of KGH, explains the basics of a fistula. “It is caused by prolonged labour. As the baby’s head presses against the lining of the birth canal, it perforates the wall of the rectum and bladder, leaving the mother unable to control her excretory functions.”

The KGH is a hospital and educational centre, housing patients and students free-of-charge — providing them with food and shelter.

Monthly costs for every student are approximately Rs8,500, says Mohammed, the operation theatre technician. The two midwifery courses offered had an average of 25 to 30 students in each batch. “Both the students and patients are provided three free meals a day,” he says. Excess land around the hospital is used to cultivate crops to minimise the cost of food.

Staff at the clinic say they have two jobs: medical treatment and psychological counselling. “These victims come to us devastated, depressed and have little or no self-esteem. So it takes time to rejuvenate them through medical help and psychiatric counselling,” says Sarwan Kumar, a resident doctor.

Hospital beds are shared between the fistula, labour and general wards. Students being trained to be midwives or medical tutors are mostly living in cramped conditions with an average of 30 girls in 10 rooms of the hostel. “A little more breathing room would be a dream come true, but beggars can’t be choosers,” quipped a third-year student, undergoing midwife training.

Basic facilities including a library, cafeteria and computer laboratory have been provided at the KGH. But in sharp contrast to these modest facilities, the hospital’s state-of-the-art medical laboratory became fully functional recently. “Nearly Rs8 million have been invested in this laboratory,” says Jamal, the lab technician.

The hospital occupies 16 acres of land donated by the family of a surgeon in Karachi. KGH also houses an education institution for the underprivileged but ambitious youth. The non-profit hospital and educational centre runs entirely on donations. Free education is provided to female students who aspire to be midwives.

Zarina and almost 10,000 patients like her visit the KHG annually.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 28th, 2011.


Bilal Ejaz | 10 years ago | Reply Excellent and well written. Who was the correspondent? Good job!
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