From Koohi Goth Hospital to Malir University of Science & Technology

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 An amazing success story which is difficult to imagine

From Koohi Goth Hospital to
Malir University of Science & Technology

And From Compounder to Chancellor of a University

By Shaukat Ali Jawaid

KARACHI: From Koohi Goth Hospital to Malir University of Science and technology and from a compounder to Chancellor of a University is an amazing success story which is difficult to imagine.  This is no less than a miracle and this miracle has happened in Pakistan. The characters of this story are the descendants of Syed Mohammad Ismael better known as Mir Bhoja a freedom fighter who was struggling against the British Raj in India who was publicly hanged by the British in Patna, India. They hail from a small town DESNA near Patna.

The actual story starts when late Dr Atia Zafar migrated to Pakistan from Patna India with her husband Mr. Abu Zafar (late) with two children. In Patna, Mr. Abu Zafar who was very much influenced by Dr. Abdul Kalam Azad was a committed worker of Congress but his father Abu Tahir was a worker of Muslim League. Abu Zafar was Deputy Mayor of Patna but was fed up with corruption in the Congress. The communal riots in Behar perhaps was another turning point in their life and few months after partition, Abu Zafar said goodbye to politics and concentrated on Education. He named his children after the great freedom fighters of the subcontinent Tipu Sultan of Mysore and Serajuddaula in Bengal who started their freedom struggle. Tipu was a symbol of resistance against the British who was gallant in his life and heroic in his death. Tipu did it in Mysore against Lord Wellesley and Serajuddaula did it against Robert Clive in Bengal at the battle of Plassy in 1757.

Mr. Abu Zafar Azad established Ghazi Mohammad Bin Qasim Primary School in Layari Area of Agra Taj Colony in early 1950 which later was upgraded to High School. Atia also had a dream to get educated and with the support of visionary and pioneering husband helped obtain  admission to LSMF class in Sylhet in the then East Pakistan after passing her all initial examinations. Later she did condense course of MBBS from Dow Medical College Karachi and it was again a miracle that while she was in final year at DMC, her eldest son Tipu Sultan had got admitted to the same medical college in the First Year.  Dr. Atia first opened her clinic in a small shop in Layari and later shifted to Malir in 1965 to establish Atia Clinic which later got expanded to become Atia General Hospital. While she started practice after getting LSMF, his eldest son Tipu Sultan was her compounder in Layari and in fact all her children both boys and girls later served their mother in different capacities in her clinic.


Prof. Tipu Sultan Chancellor of Malir University of Science and Technology (5th from left) photographed
along with Vice Chancellor Prof. Mehtab Karim, Pro VC Prof. Serajuddaula Syed, Dr. Shaheen Zafar,
Dr. Masood Sheikh and other members of the Board of Governors of MUST.

Mr. Abu Zafar wanted that all his children should become doctors and he did realize this dream when all the three sons and four daughters became medical professionals. They also selected the specialties in which professional manpower was deficient in Pakistan in those days. Tipu Sultan did her post graduation in Anesthesia getting Fellowship from the Royal College in UK, Serajuddaula Syed did post graduation in pathology while Shershah Syed the “Daddy of DMC” who has an impressive list of failures also managed not only to become a doctor but finally also managed to clear MRCOG from UK. The globe trotter had also served in Kenya for some time where he got interested to opt for obstetrics and Gynaecology as a professional career and over the years has emerged as champion of Women’s Health with his special interest in Fistulae repair and management. Fistula is the consequence of a difficult obstructed and prolonged labour. It is the most devastating of all pregnancy related disabilities, affecting tens of thousands of girls and women in South Asia.

Daughters of Atia and Abu Zafar  Shaheen Zafar, Chand Bibi Sultana, Safia Zafar and Ghousia Zafar all also become doctors and did specialization in different disciplines of medicine thus fulfilling the desire of their parents. Apart from educaiotn, late Abu Zafar was keen to help the poor and advised his children that “if they want to be happy, they must reduce their wants and must never be a slave of their desires.” And when the family got the possession of half a dozen plots of land, four close to each other in a housing scheme by the KDA launched for the professionals which was encroached by land grabber’s mafia, he advised them to dispose them off and invest it in some good cause to serve the poor. That is how the family got interested in acquiring a sixteen Acre Farm in Malir. Dr. Atia soon after graduation had joined government service and had served in various rural area including Memon Goth, Koohi Goth and others adjacent areas. When the negotiations for the purchase of the Farm were in progress, the residents of the area resisted and there were lot of hurdles.  Having failed to convince the local elders that their intentions were to serve the poor, during one of these meetings Prof. Tipu Sultan said that they wanted to set up some hospital in this area where their mother Dr.Attia had served in the past but if the residents were not interested, they will give up the idea of acquiring this Farm. This proved to be the turning point as the residents of the area some of whom were on the forefront of creating hurdles remembered the dedicated and devoted services rendered by Dr. Atia in Koohi Goth. They asked Tipu “ are you the sons of Dr. Atia” to which he responded in affirmative. At this they said, if it is so, they will confirm it and then they will be most welcome to go ahead with their plans. That is how Koohi General Hospital was started on a very modest scale in Koohi Goth in Deh Landhi in 2002.  Its Mission was and remains to develop a hospital for vulnerable communities where state of the art health services will be available free of cost to poor including women and children. It will also provide improved access to routine obstetrical care and provide lifesaving support to pregnant women who die because of non-availability of skilled staff and drugs.


It was Prof. Tipu Sultan who first invited me to visit Koohi Goth Hospital almost over a year ago and I promised to do that but somehow I could not. Last month when Prof. Seraj invited me to visit KGH, I thought I must do that and thus this visit materialized on a Sunday morning last month. Dr. Seraj accompanied me and a detailed guided tour of Malir University of Science and Technology (MUST) City Campus as well as Koohi Goth Hospital Campus which will now house the Malir University of Science & Technology, the facilities currently available, planned expansion and future programmes proved to be a fascinating experience. Going through the book “Vision—not just a Dream” authored by Shershah Syed and Humair Ishtiaq also helped me to know about the family and their struggle. In fact this book proved to be very informative.

Koohi Goth Hospital first focused on Vesico Vaginal Fistula (IVVF) and Recto Vaginal Fistula (RVF). According to estimates about four to five thousand new fistula cases are reported from Pakistan annually. Dr. Sher Shah Syed is concentrating on Safe Motherhood which includes providing emergency obstetric care and working to prevent maternal deaths, stillbirths and fistula. Koohi Goth Hospital manages more than a thousand fistulas out of about six thousand fistula surgeries performed in Pakistan every year.  He got six weeks training at Fistula Hospital Addis Ababa which was established in 1974.Dr.Aziz Abdullah,  consultant urologist does many complicated cases regularly at the Koohi Goth Hospital. When these patients leave the hospital, they are given a new set of clothes as a symbol of their fresh start in journey.

At present following facilities are available at 150-Bed Koohi Goth Hospital:

  • Medical and Surgical Care in OPD
  • General Medical Care
  • Antenatal care
  • Obstetric and Gynecological care
  • Infertility advisory services
  • Immunization
  • Family Planning Services
  • Fistula and Uterine Prolapse  repair Centre
  • General Medical Clinic for Women
  • Paediatric Clinic

More than one hundred fifty patients visit the OPD Daily. During the Year 2015, 27,971 patients were examined in the OPD, 2,731 patients were hospitalized and treated, and seven hundred thirteen surgical procedures were carried out while one thousand one hundred seventy five deliveries were performed. Dr. Asif Qureshi consultant laparoscopic surgeon does laparoscopic surgeries at the Hospital on Friday regularly besides a Female Orthopaedic clinic has also been started at the hospital. The hospital has a library for Midwives, two functioning Operation Theatres while the Third sate of the art OT will be added soon which is at present getting the equipment and instruments fixed up.

The hospital has its own CSSD RO Plant, Water Treatment Plant at the hospital premises. There is a Vocational Training Center. For disposal of sewerage, the hospital has its own Septic Tanks and treatment plant and the sewerage water after being recycled is used for watering the plants.Education of women in rural areas has always remain a priority hence the hospital also has facilities for educating the women. Late Anita Ghulam Ali the noted educationist and her NGO used to come and teach women regularly and this still goes on.

In the meantime Tipu Sultan rose to prominence, became Head of the Dept. Of Anesthesia at Dow Medical College eventually retiring as Principal of DMC. Since service to the poor was in his genes, he along with some friends established the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Civil Hospital Karachi through Public-Private partnership. This state of the art facility which is absolutely free continues to help a large number of critically ill patients while the private hospitals charge up to Rs. 35,000/- per day from the patients. Apart from providing much needed care, it is also providing training facilities to doctors and so far Prof. Tipu Sultan is reported to have helped train over three hundred anesthetists including over one hundred under his direct supervision.

Atia School of Midwifery

Since Dr. Atia had first done her LSMF she knew the importance of training support staff like nurses, midwives etc., to improve healthcare particularly of the women and children. Hence Atia School of Midwifery was established in 2006. It all started with the training of twenty girls form Koohi Goth area and now every year fifty girls and women with matriculation are given free training in safe management of deliveries and quick recognition of emergencies and calling for specialized help. These students are also provided stipend apart from free accommodation at the hostel and free food. Over the years it has produced large number of midwives who can run their own maternity clinic independently following the necessary rules and regulations. They can also prescribe basic medicine in the absence of doctor to a women during pregnancy. They can provide first aid to patients until a doctor or Gynaecologist is consulted. They can also assist the gynecologists in labor room and in operation theatre.

Atia School of Paramedics

This was established in January 2009 with the aim of providing standard technical educaiotn in various categories to paramedics and produce health workers/technicians of high competence. The students undergo one year’s intensive training after which they can work as Laboratory and Operation Theatre Technicians. This skilled and trained human resource in medical related fields has created job opportunities for people from the lower income class.


Training of Trainers:  While nurses are being trained at Atia Hospital, Atia Midwifery School started this Midwifery and Nursing Tutor training Project in November 2008. It is an eight month Nursing and Midwifery Tutor Training Certificate Course which is conducted and supervised by qualified, experienced local, national and international faculty. On Sunday when we visited Koohi Goth Hospital, it was fascinating to see the class in progress and on enquiry it revealed that the trainees had come not only from interior of Sindh but from province of Baluchistan as well. This course is for those who have completed their RN and RM examination but could not do post graduation, who are either teaching at Nursing and Midwifery students or intend to become teachers. It is a thirty week intensive full time resident training course spread over two terms. The candidates stay in the hostel located at the Koohi Goth Hospital. Till 2015, one hundred ninety four students have already graduated.

GSK Foundation International got interested in this project and sponsored this project for three years which gave it a much needed impetus enhancing its credibility. Under this project two PhD nurses from UK i.e. Helen Mcintyre from Nottingham and Gaynor Mclain from Birmingham also came for fifteen days each to monitor the performance of the local tutors as well as deliver lectures. As the word spread internationally, later nurses from other parts of UK, Sweden and Ireland have also visited this facility.

Koohi Goth Hospital Lab:  On May 31st 2011, this laboratory was established at the hospital. It has facilities for routine blood tests and is performing over hundred tests daily.  The tests being performed at this laboratory include  CBC,ESR, Blood Sugar, Urea, LFT, Urine DR, Stool DR, PT-INR, Urine PT besides blood groups.

The hospital started Competency Based Training programme in 2011 training MBBS doctors practicing obstetrics and Gynaecology and so far more than fifty doctors have benefitted from this programme.  An intensive refresher course of forty hours for practicing anaestheists was also started at the hospital which has benefitted many anesthetists of Sindh province.

Zafar and Atia Foundation Charitable Trust

After retirement from Government Service, Mr. Abu Zafar started managing Patna Medical Store which the family had set up at Atia Hospital just to keep him busy. He died peacefully at home on February 8th 2004. Even after his death the family had not forgotten his advice hence they established Zafar and Atia Foundation Charitable Trust with Dr.Attia Zafar as the Founding President. Dr. Atia also died in 2014 but their Masson continues.

Board of Trustees of Zafar and Atia Foundation Charitable Trust

  • Dr. Syed Tipu Sultan  President
  • Dr. Syed Serajuddaula Vice President
  • Dr.Shershah Syed  General Secretary
  • Dr. Shaheen Zafar  Treasurer
  • Dr.Alia Zafar  Joint Secretary
  • Dr.Safia Zafar  Member
  • Dr. Chand Bibi Member
  • Dr. Ghusia Zafar  Member

The primary objective of the Foundation is to serve the underprivileged and poor sections of the society.

Malir University of Science and Technology

With over forty doctors in the family with postgraduate qualifications and two running hospitals, they too could have been tempted to open a private medical college which has now become a source of making quick money but the priorities with this family were different. They had throughout been concentrating at projects which are helpful for the poor people coming from lower and middle class. Hence, they decided to establish Malir University of Science and Technology which is a major project and Flagship of Zafar and Atia Foundation Charitable Trust. It got Charter from Government of Sindh in October 2015. Prof. Tipu Sultan is Chancellor of the university while Prof. Mehtab Karim has been appointed as Vice Chancellor and Prof. Serajuddaula Syed as Pro Vice Chancellor. To begin with it intends to launch three degree programmes a Four Year BBA programme, Four Year BS in Computer Science programme and Four year Health Sciences and Medical Technology programme. A distinguishing feature of this University is to provide quality educaiotn at affordable tuition fee. Those behind this venture are determined to prove that it is a University with a difference.

It is planned to gradually increase bed strength of Koohi Goth Hospital up to two hundred and later three hundred beds in phases. It is also planned to construct three Boys and Three Girls Hostels, one girl’s hostel is ready while construction of Boys hostel is in progress. Later on when they have all the requisite teaching and training facilities available, they might consider opening a medical college as well.

City Campus of MUST: A city office of the university has already been established adjacent to Atia General Hospital in Malir. The three story building has VC office, office of Director Academic programme and International linkage, Conference room for one hundred fifty people, six class rooms, Reading Room, Library and Faculty lounge.  To ensure uninterrupted electric supply a 60KVA generator has been installed.

Prof. Seraj narrated yet another interesting episode during our visit to the Koohi Goth Hospital. He pointed out that while they were negotiating for the purchase of this Farm,  we came to know that another Farm owner has gone to the court in litigation asking for  passage to his farm which goes through the middle of our Farm and he was infect already using it as a passage. We fought the case and it was decided in his favour. We accepted that and gave him the passage which later turned out to be another social investment for us. Now this passage has separated the campus in two parts, hence the hospital and academic side have been automatically separated and are linked through an underground   subway. In future all academic buildings will be constructed on the academic side which will also have three boys hostels while extension of services related to hospital will be on the other side. Space has also been earmarked for Sports and Recreation Center on the academic side. There will be provision for jogging track while facilities of Open Air Theatre already exists which has been used on numerous occasions which has come as a great delight for the residents of the area.


Terminal Care Centre:  Family of Dr. Karim settled in USA has helped in establishing a hundred bed Terminal Care Center which is yet another humanistic venture of Koohi Goth Hospital.  This is a proposed three story building and Ground floor is almost ready to be commissioned. The total cost of this project is estimated to be Rs. 29.5 Million. This will have thirty beds on the ground floor, four special isolation rooms, and fifty beds on each two floors. It will also have ample space on the ground floor for inmates to sit and relax. Dr. Sarwar Jamil Siddiqui consultant neurologist one of the family members is helping in this project.

Sindh Institute of Reproductive Medicine:  This is a purpose built facility equipped with state of the art equipment and instrument which has been set up near Atia General Hospital in Malir. It is functioning under the supervision of Dr. Shaheen Zafar whose special interest is in Infertility. Dr. Sher Shah Syed is the other Obstetrician & Gynaecologist while Prof. Seraj looks after the Embryology Laboratory for which he attended a special training course in Jordan.

Dr. Atia had given up practice and was at home.   However, every batch of midwives, midwifery tutors and trainee technicians at the Atia Hospital and Koohi Goth used to visit her before they completed their training. Dr. Atia is reported to have died in 2014 and is buried in a corner at the Koohi Goth Hospital which was selected by the family as her last resting place.

Having visited these facilities I asked Prof. Seraj you all Tipu, yourself, Shershah are now over Sixty and Seventy years of age. Some of your children are settled overseas and who is going to ensure the sustainability, efficient functioning of these projects in the long run? At this, Prof. Seraj responded that  for the time being we have all family members as Members of the Trust but in future we hope to look into the possibility of having some other committed, dedicated  members in the Trust. It is our hope and we wish that all our family members and their children wherever they are, will continue to contribute towards these ventures financially, through their expertise and any other way. In fact some of them working in USA, UK and other developed countries ensure that transfer of latest technology will be quick and easy. They are already helping us in so many ways to improve its functioning, he remarked.

It was perhaps Education and Education alone in which late Mr. Abu Zafar Azad was interested and ensured that not only all his children but others as well should get educated. He must have been a very happy person to have realized his dream which has not only changed and transformed the life of this family but families of hundreds of others who came in contact with them.  Education plays a vital role in progress and prosperity of individuals, families and society but alas many Governments in the developing world including Pakistan have not yet realized its importance with the result that Health and Education remains quite low in their priorities.

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