off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid

The Real World outside
the Five Star Hotels

Members of the medical profession in Pakistan are very fond of holding their conferences, seminars and symposia’s in Five Star Hotels rather than the lecture halls and auditoriums of medical institutions for various reasons. In some cases, there is no other option in view of the much needed facilities and conducive environment for such academic activities. However, they must not forget the Real World which exists outside these Five Star Hotels. What to talk of small towns and cities as well as rural areas, even in these big cities, there are millions of people living in the urban slums who have no access to healthcare facilities and who cannot afford to consult specialists when needed. As such, the leadership of all the professional specialty organizations, medical institutions must think about them as well.

It won’t be asking them too much if they spare one or two days in a year to start some outreach programme holding medical camps in these urban slums at least if they cannot go far away in the rural areas. They can not only screen patients at high risk, provide them health education creating awareness about the dreaded diseases apart from providing much needed advice but it will also generate lot of useful data for research work leading to scientific publications, thereby improving our contribution to world medical literature.

They can invite the pharmaceutical companies to support this initiative and many will be too glad to help and assist them in this initiative. They can not only make all the necessary arrangements for these camps but will be willing to arrange on the spot diagnostic facilities and also provide free drugs to the needy patients. Different pharmaceutical companies can be given different areas to work for such an initiative and the professional societies can chalk out an elaborate programme for that. Many healthcare professionals in the younger generation will be willing to serve in these camps and in return they are the one who should be recognized, honoured and awarded at the conferences after careful selection by a committee which should be constituted for this purpose rather than bestowing these honours on old boys who do nothing, sit and just gossip at conference venues in Five Star Hotels. Some of them even use such occasions for holiday with their family members at the expense of pharmaceutical industry. Even if they are living in the same city, they would request pharma companies to arrange their stay with their family members at the conference venue. People from the industry being in a very vulnerable positon, often cannot refuse and have to concede to their requests. However, little do they realize that all this expenditure which the pharma industry later passes on to the poor patients in the shape of high cost of services, drugs, deprive many patients of their medications as they find it unaffordable. However, these greedy physicians are all the time thinking of innovative ways how to extract more funding from the pharmaceutical industry on one pretext or the other. Perhaps they have forgotten that each one of us has to leave this world one day and the way they will be remembered by their friends and colleagues as well as the society in which they live.

However, at the same time it is heartening to note that even in such circumstance when materialistic virus has infected large number of healthcare professionals, there are many God fearing kind hearted physicians, NGOs, Trusts and Foundations run and managed by conscious people who are already involved in such humanitarian work and earning rich dividends which will help them in the World thereafter. Start of such outreach programmes will not only help the poor and needy but will also go a long way in improving the image of the medical profession in the society which is unfortunately at the lowest ebb these days and it will help them regain the lost glory and respect in the society.

In the end one would like to commend those healthcare professionals who keep on working quietly serving the ailing humanity at the healthcare facilities run and managed by Trusts and in the public hospitals as well despite insecure and uncomfortable working environment because they are our real Heroes many of whom remain unsung, unrewarded and are seldom considered for any recognition by the State and the Society. It is their professional satisfaction which keeps them moving.

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