Professional diaspora and love of the land

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Professional diaspora and love of the land
A success story of Medics International which has built 
numerous bridges between the old and the new world

By Prof. Shabih H. Zaidi

Medics International is a UN accredited professional NGO based in Princeton New Jersey, USA. It was formed in 1994. So, to celebrate its 25th anniversary, a major event called the Silver Jubilee Global Summit was held in Pakistan from 23rd- 31st. December 2019.More than a thousand health professional attended the events. The Governor Sindh kindly inaugurated the conference and announced to allot a large tract of land for the establishment of Sadiq University. The information minister Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan and minister for overseas Pakistanis Mr. Zulfi Bukhari as well as Dr. Noor ul Haq Qaadri, Minister for religious affairs graced various functions. President of Azad Kashmir kindly honoured at the concluding session.

The conference was a great success in view of the attendance, quality of the scientific material, local as well as international participation, logistics, audiovisual facilities and the overall * feel good factor * of the delegates and dignitaries. The details are available on their web page (www.imamianedics.org) and duly published in the print media as well as the electronic media.

Medics International is the result of a dream scene by a Dow graduate when he travelled to US in late 1980s, for his residency and had a vision of establishing an organization to serve humanity. Wajih Rizvi approached a few likeminded people and registered the organization in US in 1994. Initial days were, as expected, tough and challenging. As a resident one could only give so much time or money but he/ they persevered. As the word of mouth spread the news many health workers began to join it.


Prof. Shabih Zaidi photographed along with Mr. Azhar Zaidi a senior executive
member of Medics International during the conference held  
in Pakistan

Soon they needed an office and basic secretarial staff. Slowly and gradually things began to consolidate. Their mission statement is to serve humanity above and beyond all forms of biases, prejudice, through health and education. Their mandate is harnessed from the noble Quran (5:32).

Every year they have conducted a series of educational and health related activities initially in USA but gradually in many other countries. In 2000 a historical conference was held in Delhi which provided a genuine platform to Aligarh, Luknow and Delhi scholars to share their professional experiences. Mother country to many saw their off springs from distant lands bring wealth of knowledge and skills to serve all and sundry. IMIs members and supporters have a massive Medical University called ERA’s in Luknow, who assisted in holding this event of historic proportions. Several welfare projects are running in India since then. The salient being the Get Well clinic in Hyderabad, Aligarh, the mobile clinics in various towns and villages, the Eye clinics, 14 schemes / scholarships to strengthen our professional youth etc. Likewise, many welfare projects like the health clinics in Karachi, Khairpur, Nawabshah, Khanewal, Chakwal, Lahore, and parts of Gilgit and Baltistan either alone or duly supported by local communities, are serving humanity. Similar projects are routinely carried out in Tanzania through the East African chapter. Eye clinics have been highly successful, where the team of ophthalmologists travel from U.K. and elsewhere to perform cataract surgery and provide spectacles. 

In 2011, IMI held a conference in London, which introduced fresh and active professional colleagues into its fold. Soon after they opened chapters in Ireland and Europe. In 2012, they held a massive global conference the holy city of Najaf. This conference must be called a watershed event as many Muslim countries sent their stalwarts to attend. Amongst them Dr Ali Akbar Vellayati as a professional colleague and the foreign minister of Islamic Republic of Iran. About 500 delegates attended numerous sessions held in the campus of the University of Kufa which has a fairly old medical college.


In 2012, IMI was approached by a group of wealthy investors from India and Canada to assist them in establishing a medical school in the paradise island of Barbados. The rationale being the acute shortage of positions available to wards of the diaspora in the West to gain admission in Medical schools locally. The American University of Barbados School of Medicine was established with the expertise of Medics International professional planners, teachers, scholars and supporters. It was soon moved to an exotic building by the Siver Sands into an Italian holiday resort which had been abandoned by the owners due to the famous financial crisis the AUB has since prospered. 

The following year an International conference was held in Barbados where the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh sent in their tutors to conduct a hands on surgical skills Workshop, granting a certificate of attendance to the participants. The Beijans had never imagined that they could get a certificate from an illustrious institution like the RCS. The following year saw a fine International conference held in Toronto which gathered some of the elitist speakers from the finest universities of US, EU and Canada.

 Humanitarian works, in the meantime continued in many countries, such as earthquakes and flood relief in Pakistan or Haiti or Sandy’s victims in NY. More salient service was performed in the war torn areas of Iraq where the international agencies did not have much access. During the wars in remote areas of Syria in recent past, Medics International through its Syrian chapter and Najafi Foundation supported and often spearhead the welfare projects where Red Cross or Medicine Sans Frontier could not gain access. Medics International sends a team of health professionals to serve the Hajis during Hajj and Zawar at Arbaeen for last 10 years.

Management of war afflicted victims needed physical rehabilitation and management of PTSD. The programme developed by Medics International through the Global President Dr Huma Naqvi of the Physical Medicine dept. of Montefiore hospital and Albert Einstein School, NY has now been included in the national curriculum of Iraqi medical schools.

The Year 2016 saw the emergence of Medics International as a bridge between the Western and the Eastern scholars at the massive conference held in Tehran, Qom, Mashed and Shiraz. 700 top physicians from US, UK, Canada and Europe joined the ranks and files of the stalwarts from ancient universities and mines of wisdom of Qom and Mash’had. People realized that all that work done by the Muslim scholars like Avicenna and Mulla Sadra Albeiruni and Al - Farabi had their seeds sown in these very lands. Imam Reza a.s in Mash had has blessed these regions with knowledge and wisdom open to all. Excursions to Ispahan, and Shiraz to pay tributes to Attar, Khayyam, Hafiz o Firdousi were only topped by Ziarate Imam Raza in Mashad.

 Medics International has leaped forward rather briskly in disseminating knowledge and skills over and beyond the works of other major NGOs, by conducting educational programmes / workshops to transfer various educational paraphernalia of medical education. So, while serving the human mass of pilgrims during Arbaeen mission in 2016, for the 8th consecutive year, the Dean of Karbala medical college was met and a plan to engage their faculty at international level was arranged.

Subsequently the Teachers Training Programme also called Faculty Enhancement Program has been held successfully on yearly basis. In September 2019, the Global Health Academy of University of Edinburgh was engaged to supervise a leadership workshop attended by numerous senior faculty in Iraq. Those who attended were awarded a certificate of participation by University of Edinburgh.


Medics International organized its international conference in Pakistan at Karachi and
Islamabad in the last week of December 2019. Group photograph taken during the
conference shows Prof. Shabih Zaidi (5th from right) alongwith Dr. Fatema Jawad,
Prof. Zarnaz Wahid, Arshad
Qayumi, Mulazim Bukhari, Wajih Rizvi, Izhar Hussain,
Husnain Naqvi and other MI delegates.

It was a treasured gift for our Iraqi friends who were deprived of travelling to UK or USA for nearly 30 years. Since then the University of Kufa has gained collaboration with the University of Leicester and Karbala is benefitting with links with University of Edinburgh. Earlier on IMI held couple of workshops in India in 17-18 where the faculties of some Iraqi universities joined in to learn the fine art of Curriculum development, Instructional strategies  assessment and evaluation by master trainers like Prof Turner, Ali Mehdi, Ahsan Zaidi and their team. More significantly to develop comradeship with international universities.

In 2017 they bought about 25 acres of prime land in New Jersey to build their permanent headquarters plus a library, an auditorium, a young residents temporary accommodation (NEST1) and a senior citizens long term relocation (NEST2) etc. It will cost them 75 million dollars.

The Chancellor of Qom University Prof Iranikhan visited the UK in 2019 to study the NHS and the education models of top British Universities. IMI stalwarts arranged his visit to the St Georges in London, the Royal Marsden and ICR in Chelsea, the Kings college, the Famous Education centers in Edinburgh, The Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons, and through Prof Musheer Hussain, IMIs eminent scholar a special visit to the Mecca of Medical Education in Dundee plus a pilgrimage to the famous Cusheiri Lab. It resulted in further strengthening of Medics International with the institutions even older than Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge even Al -Azhar University i.e. in the holy city of Qom. In 2018-19 Medics International educators held a high powered meeting with the Imam ZainalAbedin Hospital in Karbala, which is emerging as a major centre of Excellence in Education, 

For the Arab world. Only recently they have signed an MOU with the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. Earlier on IMI- UKs executive, Prof Riaz Iftikhar facilitated the collaboration of the Royal College of Physicians MRCP centre at PIMS. It is expected that similar centre shall soon open in Karachi. So, Medics International has built numerous bridges between the old and the new world.

Encyclopedia of
Islamic Medical Ethics

Medical Ethics: It has always played a major role in all Medics International conferences. So, in 2018, a major project was launched. It is called the Encyclopedia of Islamic Medical Ethics edited by Prof Larijani of Tehran University assisted by Shabih Zaidi. 110 topics were selected by the team of experts. Nearly 75% of the work is complete in January 2020. 40 chapters are written by IMI scholars stretching from Harvard and Emory to University of Auckland and many universities in between. This colossal work will be published in English and initially, followed by translation in Arabic and Urdu, over time.

Medics International Virtual University (MIVU) is already operational. It is soon joining hands with other Virtual Universities to disseminate knowledge and skills far and beyond the manmade physical barriers, high walled fortresses, the silent corridors and concealed courtyards. Knowledge is finally liberated! The journal of Medics International (JMI) is an online open access journal available to all health professionals who are welcome to publish their scientific material. 

Indian Muslims are currently suffering at the hands of fanatics and Muslims are looked down upon. It is painful. So, Medics International has elected an Indian Muslim Dr. Mubarak Naqvi from Mumbai as its new Global President. It is planned that Medics International will hold top class Education activities in Hyderabad, Lucknow, Aligarh and Mumbai to raise the profile of Muslims in India.

Just as this report was being penned, a building has been offered by a wealthy American - Pakistani landlord to the Medics International to establish their University. The building is purpose built and simply mind boggling to see. The property is spread over 17 acres of land, only an hour’s drive away from Lahore. Insha Allah, soon it will become a global seat of learning.

Medics Intentional has a faculty simply unmatchable with any other institution in Pakistan. They will form part of the revolving faculty in a modular, clinically integrated curriculum, and opening lots of opportunities to young medics for electives as well as residencies in North America, U.K and Europe. At the moment, Medics International has its chapters in 21 countries with 15,000 members. So while other NGOs remain confined to one region, one task, one objective, Medics International beats them all in serving humanity though its expanding diaspora and multitalented professionals. 

Alama Iqbal wrote:

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