If you do not have anything to do, “Write a Book”

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 If you do not have anything
to do, “Write a Book”

Prof. Dr. Altaf Hussain Rathore, FRCS
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It is estimated that a large number of Books have been published in the world out of which 2200000 were published from 1990 to 2014. China published 440000, USA 304000 India 90000 and Pakistan 3811 books in one year. There is no exact data how many medical books are published in Pakistan. Prof. Ghani and Prof. Elahi Bukhsh, were the first healthcare professionals who wrote books on ENT and Medicine respectively. Prof M.A.H Siddiqui, Published his book ATLAS of Anatomy in India before he migrated to Pakistan, but nobody continued his good work in this country. Initially there were not many medical books written by Pakistani authors. So our medical students had to read British, American or Indian book. Some brilliant students, organizations like Jamiat, Prince, Teres, Moosani Etc tried to fill that GAP. They used to write Professor’s notes during their lectures, used to get it printed and sell to the other students. These notes used to be almost on every medical subject. Later on a few good medical books written by Pakistani authors came in the market. Some of these included the following: (My apologies to those whose name I might have missed)


Prof. Altaf Hussain Rathore

  1. ANATOMOY – Prof. Ghulam Ahmad, Aftab Merchant, Nasir Aziz, Laiq Siddiqi, Imtiaz Ahmad and Col. Rameed Iqbal,
  2. Biochemistry and Physiology – Prof. Mushtaq Ahmad, Mukhtar Ahmad, Faiz, Sultan Ayub  Meo, Masood Khan.
  3. Community Medical – Prof. Ilyas and Ansari
  4. CARDIOLOGY- Prof. Samad, Najeeb, Ali Mohammad, Kaleem u Din Aziz (ped. card)
  5. Dermatology – Prof. Tahir Saeed Haroon. Paediatric Dermatology Yasmeena Khan.
  6. Dentistry – Prof. Ahmad Iqbal, Pervaiz Iqbal
  7. EYE – Prof. Cheema, Saleem Akhtar, Muhammad Afzal, and Nadeem Hafeez Butt.
  8. ENT – Prof. Rashid, Prof. Ghani, Shafi and Latif, Saleem Akhtar, Jalisi
  9. Forensic Medicine: Prof. Omer Khan, Farhat Mirza, Niaz Baloch, Naseeb Awan.
  10. Gynecology – Prof. Rashid Latif, Abdul Majid Memon, Saleem Akhtar, Altaf Bashir, Fauzia Khan, and Arshad Chohan, Shahida Zaidi.
  11. Medicine – Prof. Illahi Bukhsh , M. Ali, Rauf, A. A. Shah, Shabbir Nasir and Inayatullah, Inam Danish.
  12. Neurology and Psychiatry – Prof. Hassan Aziz, Naeem Hamid, M. H. Mubashir.
  13. Nuclear Medicine- Dr. Maqbool Shahid.
  14. Pharmacology – Prof. Tajamal Zaidi, Masood Cheema.
  15. Pediatric – Prof. Wasti and Arif and Hanif, Shukat Raza, Pervaiz Akhtar and Zafarullah, Sajid Maqbool.
  16. Pediatric Surgery Prof. Naeemuz Zafar
  17. Pathology Prof. A. H. Nagi, Shahzad Tayab and Mushtaq Cheema
  18. Surgery Prof. A. H. Rathore, Ijaz Ahsan Shuja Tahir Imtiaz Rasool
  19. Prof. I. A. K. Tareen, Prof.Khalida Ijaz Tareen, Tanveer Ahmed Rana (Psychiatry)

No Doubt there is a small market for the Pakistani publications, no appreciation from the government, public, and students. Even your own colleagues try to ridicule and discourage you out of jealousy .Mind it they are the people who have not published a single page anywhere. Once at Quaid-e-Azam Medical College Bahawalpur where I was posted as professor in charge of the college library and my text book of surgery was popular amongst students; on students demand I ordered to purchase 20 books (besides other) for the college lending library. A junior colleague of mine protested to the college Principal for that. I went to Karachi to chair one session of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center  Annual symposiums. I asked the senior professor in charge of surgery of JPMC if he received complimentary copy of my book. He replied in a mocking type what a rubbish book I wrote like Golwala’s medicine (an Indian book which was very popular in the students) I asked the same questions to a friend of mine who was head of surgery, D.M.C (Dow Medical College, Karachi). He replied “Yes” I have and I delivery my lectures to the students from your book”. But he never told his students about existence of my book.

Writing of a Text book may not improve very much your economy but it will give you definitely confidence, inner satisfaction and improve your personality. Mind it some people do also appreciate your efforts .Once i went to Abbot Abad to meet my friend Prof. Jameel-ur-Rehman. He was not at D.H.Q Hospital. There were few/doctors whom I introduced myself. Suddenly group of young doctors gathered around me to see me. They had read my book. Most interesting things happened when in 1984 I went to Karachi as an external examiner of surgery in Dow Medical College. One of the senior registrars of   the surgical unit was looking very much enthusiastic to look after me. I never saw him before .He specially invited me for a dinner at his home I asked him why he was looking after me so much. He told me that he appeared in FCPS II three times but always failed. Fourth time he got hold of my book read it thoroughly and passed. He thought it was a wonder book.

As I said earlier there is not much financial return from writing a book. It could prove to be an expensive hobby. When my textbook sale was on the top, its one year’s royalty was equal to my one month professional practice, even less. But you do not spend any thing for publishing; provided you have good publisher which are not many in Pakistan.  I did not pay a single penny for publishing my six books. Some times you have a good colleague who will encourage you. When I was assistant Professor and was planning to write a clinical method of surgery I talked about it to a very senior colleague, Prof. Mushtaq Ahmad who had already written and published fourth editions of four volumes of physiology and biochemistry .He was very happy to know my program and encouraged me for that. He suggested to write a textbook of surgery instead of clinical method .He gave me introductory letter for his publisher – Ilami Katabkhana Lahore, who became my publisher as well later on. There are not many good publishers in Pakistan, who will be ready to take your book to print and market as well and will give you reasonable royalty. For example Prof. Rashid Latif – an eminent gynecologist and author of first textbook of obstetric and gynecologist in Pakistan told me that he had to wait for two years when his book was lying with National Book Foundation for printing ; eventually he got it back and got it printed himself .For a busy clinician it is very difficult to print and market a book himself.

Writing of a textbook is not very difficult. It is putting in the latest basic facts about diseases in an interesting way in your own language, in an established style with your own illustrations and photographs. Help books are even easier to write. You do not have to read research controversial articles. If you are in a teaching institution, take the help of your students. Some of them are very talented and can draw good illustrations and can take good clinical photographs. Your mobile phone has a good camera in it, do it yourself may be patient or X-Ray or Ultrasound or C.T scan or M.R.I. Take 9 or 10 latest text books of your subject, read them thoroughly. Your mind will be saturated with knowledge, so go ahead. Remember copying of one or two book is plagiarism and copying more than six or more books is a Thesis. There should never be a compromise on the language and grammar. Mind it your mother tongue is not English (nor of your readers) so get it corrected by some professor of English.

Good book should have multiple authors but there are not many people who like to write, does matter how brilliant they are. Some of them are very idealistic and if you are going to wait for them you will never be able to complete your book. A friend of mine, a talented professor of neurosurgery was my roommate at C.M.H. Kharian, during 1971 Indo Pakistan war. I asked him later on to contribute for my second edition a chapter on neurosurgery. He gladly accepted. For two year every month I used to ask him the progress and he always use to reply with a smile. Yes I have started. I used to ask what he had written and he used to write “bismillah----“and give it to me. Eventually I wrote it myself. I approached a very senior Professor of Surgery of Punjab. He was a great name in thyroid surgery. When I asked him to contribute a chapter of thyroid in my book, he got so much furious that how a junior can dare to ask him to write something in his book and left the place without answering. If you are lucky you may get like minded people. But remember you do not have to be brilliant or a position holder to write a book.

Every man and woman has a book in his mind but few will write it. Never mind about the books available present in the market, even some of them may be excellent. Your book will have its own place. For example, Bailey and Love book Short Practice of Surgery has been popular in the whole English speaking world for more than 80 years. I read it myself and even my teachers read this book for their M.B.B.S and F.R.C.S. It does not mean that no body would have dared to write another book of surgery. After that hundreds of books of surgery, some of them very popular came in the market and people are reading them. So you can also claim your share. If you think of being perfect, no body is perfect in the world. Prof A.H Toosi PHD a renowned anatomist, who also worked as Project Director of Punjab Medical College was the most intelligent person I ever met. He was a Professor of anatomy and Principal of Nishtar Medical College, Multan and later of Punjab Medical College Faisalabad. He retired as Secretary Health Punjab. Once I happened to meet him when I was a junior assistant professor of surgery .I admired his knowledge’ asked him why he did not write a book of anatomy for the students. He was very pleased and showed me a few notes he had written. He told me that he was planning for that since last 10 years, but his notes needed some improvement. He was idealistic, never got time for his ideal book and died of mature age. Prof. Ghani Siddiqui, F.R.C.S who always got first position in his class and university was a real patriotic person who once told me that he wanted to write a National Book of Surgery authored by many Pakistani writers. I don’t know whether he got likeminded peoples or not.

What I used to de for writing books, I used to write detailed notes of a topic after reading different books before my lecture and put in the latest ideas and development after reading different journals. I always used to carry two cameras with me, one for the clinical photographs and other for interesting X-rays. Eventually these habits of mine helped me in bringing out my books. So you should also do it when you are young, enthusiastic and have more free time. Your mind is fresh, full of ideas and energy, every passing day you will be getting more and busier. If you don’t have confidence in your English language, write in Urdu or any local language. You do not have to write for doctors, write for paramedics, nurses, technician, technologist or even public. Even it doesn’t have to be a medical topic. You can write on poetry, fiction, short stories, novel, even, your own or family’s biography. If no publisher is ready to accept it, it does not matter. Write another one. Some other will be accepted. If you can afford , print your own or start your own publishing house. I can assures you that your books will add to your own and national pride. Good luck.

Tail Piece: Recently I received a complimentary copy of a book “Washington Manual of Surgery” 6th edition, 930 pages with small prints. It is a summery of all the subspecialties of Surgery and allied sciences for quick revision. It contains general surgery, head and neck, ENT, Gynecology, obstetric, Radiology and anesthesia, etc. It has 78 contributors who are the professors, associates, assistants and residents of the above subjects of Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A. definitely it is being read throughout the world.

I have also come to know that Prof. (Retired) Ijaz Ahsan, FRCS former Principal of King Edward Medial College has brought out 3rd edition of his book on Surgery. He managed to get 24 contributors which shows a wind of change.

NOTE: The author has published six books and about 120 articles and papers on surgery. Presently he is working as Chief of Surgery in Foundation Hospital Rajana, Dist. Toba Tek Singh, Pakistan.