Ever since I’ve started working with the SOC team as an intern, I’ve had the chance to watch several documentaries that highlight the many different facets which make up the Pakistani community. From transgenders acquiring jobs as tax collectors to women like Dr. Parveen, who was featured in a more recent project of SOC Films – ‘Ho Yaqeen,’ for dedicating her life to the rehabilitation of drug addicts in Peshawar, there is no dearth of inspiring individuals in Pakistan.
Just now, I came across SOC’s coverage of the Indus Hospital, a vast project initiated back in 2005. Spread over 20 acres of land Indus is Karachi’s first state of the art hospital to provide, as their motto states “quality care without cost.” I’m almost ashamed to admit that this was the first time I had ever heard of Indus and their work. In a country where sixty percent of its population lives on under Rs.180 a day, Indus Hospital provides a lifeline to many whose financial instability would otherwise condemn them to a life of tremendous pain and at times fatality.
Dr. Mansoor Ali, Professor of the Orthopaedics department featured in the documentary says “The biggest stumbling block of private practive is haggling with patients about how much they can pay and I have never been comfortable with that because you have a patient who’s in distress and you’re arguing about money. Here [at Indus] I don’t have to negotiate or haggle about money with anybody. If the treatment is expensive my hospital lets me provide it with no questions asked.”
SOC relates the story of two patients; Nazia, a mother of two who had contracted a progressively lethal flesh eating bacteria and Anas, an infant boy who had spent the greater part of the first two years of his life at Indus Hospital after a misused injection left him with an infection that almost left the boy an amputee. These two are just a number in the 14,000 patients Indus Hospital sees in a month, more than thrice the amount compared to any large private sector hospital. These distraught families come to Indus not just from Karachi but from far and wide, more often than not without a paisa to their name and entrust their lives to the staff at Indus Hospital. Fehmida – head nurse of the Pediatric department – says that “The most important moment is when you remind a patient that pain is temporary and there is always hope.”
Since its inauguration, The Indus Hospital has treated over a million patients completely free of cost and and boasts of its anti-discrimination policies. Muslims, non-muslims, ethnicity, language, the hospitals unofficial motto “exceptional care without exception” applies in every situation, to every entrant. Now a staff of more than 200 doctors and nurses, Fehmida speaks for all of them in the documentary when she says “It makes me proud to be a part of this organization.”
Indus Hospital is not the only project of its kind, there are many private ventures which aim at providing respite to the impoverished, ventures that are sustained by the donations and charities of our more fortunate citizens. These ventures are a testimony to our capabilities as a community, proving that we can make a difference if we come together and make the effort. We might have divided and fallen, but united we can find our feet again. Dr Mansoor sums it up best leaving us with these words.
“I keep coming back to Indus because here I see patients who have absolutely nothing, so I see it as a way of giving back to them. If more people in this world had this philosophy, the world would probably be a better place. We all have to do our little bit.”