Paperless medicine: Indus Hospital kicks off first health conference

Till Sunday, iCON 2012 will host seminars and lectures.

Our Correspondent January 29, 2012


After breaking barriers in public health by opening its doors specifically for the poor of Karachi, the Indus Hospital (IH) made its first official academic foray into the field on Thursday night with a conference.

Doctors from all departments of the fast growing hospital as well as the who’s who of the profession from all over the city gathered at the premises for ‘iCON 2012’ which will be spread over three days, from January 27 to 29, with delegates from across the country. The conference will host seminars and lectures on 12 diverse topics such as nephrology and infectious diseases, family medicine and pediatrics.

“When the team was setting up the hospital there were a lot of people who prophesised that its services would not last six months but it has been almost four years now,” remarked a proud Dr Abdul Bari Khan, the chief executive officer. Given the response from generous donors, they have plans to increase the services they can offer. Around 70% of its patients are treated through Zakat.

Director of Medical Services Dr Zafar Zaidi took visitors for a tour through the 150-bed tertiary care centre. “The hospital has come a long way since then,” he reminisced.

It started with the Patients Welfare Association at Dow Medical College in 1979. They used to have only a cupboard of medicines to support the needy patients, which grew to become a blood bank. Then, the PWA helped upgrade the diagnostic centre in 1986. After incidents as the Saddar bomb blast in 1987, the doctors decided to open a hospital. The dream came true after 20 years in July 2007 when the hospital started work with the philanthropic support of The Ruffaydah Foundation and The Islamic Mission Hospital Trust.

Today, the hospital has collaborations with international centres of excellence, community health centres, a Multi-Drug Resistant TB programme, bio-safety level 3 labs, a unique paperless system for internal communication and transferring data, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Pakistan (CPSP) accreditation in anesthesiology, general surgery, urology, nephrology, orthopedics and infectious diseases, eye surgeries. The hospital has treated 718,108 out-patients till January 1 this year, undertaken 2.1 million investigations and has spent about Rs1.58 billion on its patients.

Apart from the philanthropy, what adds glitter to gold is the hospital’s ventures into the domains of research, public outreach, international collaboration, and a focus on neglected diseases. Talking to The Express Tribune, Dr Zafar Zaidi said that they had observed that while healthcare is available for the public, there is an extreme lack of understanding of communities and their health patterns, no data to help formulate policies and hardly any outreach. Indus hospital is trying to change that. Its community outreach programme targets among other areas, Landhi, Korangi and Bin Qasim. They have, for example, mapped them with Google’s help and undertaken interventions such as vaccines.

Amid all this work, the IH teams have made some startling discoveries. For instance, it was found that there is a high incidence of TB in women between 20 and 25 years, which is unusual compared to the worldwide trend. The IH teams have played a part in trying to help such women. Indeed, in some cases, young women with TB who were otherwise likely to be considered an economic burden by their households, experienced something of a reversal in social status as the IH started providing them one month’s rations. “This [type of] community outreach may help quantify data for probable use in future for policymaking,” Zaidi offered.

Thus, by the nature of its vision and outlook, IH has been trying to study diseases that affect only the poor but are often neglected. Dr Naseem Salahuddin, an expert consultant in infectious diseases with IH, gives the examples of malaria, Aids, hepatitis, rabies and dog bite.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2012.


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