off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid

Chief Guest at the SAARC
Congress of ophthalmology


Irrespective of the fact whether it was by chance or non-availability of someone else, the decisions by the organizers of the 13th Congress  of SAARC Academy of Ophthalmology deserve to be commended having selected an eminent surgeon and their own colleague to be the chief guest on this occasion. Prof. Saleh Memon, a well-known ophthalmic surgeon of the country who retired from Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center many years ago and since then is serving the people through an NGO was invited to be the chief guest in the inaugural session as a mark of respect and in recognition of his contributions to improve ophthalmic care and promote this discipline of medicine and he did not disappoint any one. Prof. Saleh Memon is currently Director Projects & Research, Isra Ophthalmic Research & Development Center at Al Ibrahim Eye Hospital, Isra Postgraduate Institute of Ophthalmology affiliated with Isra University.

Instead of usual ritual of praising the organizers, Prof. Saleh Memon a very humble, kind hearted ophthalmic surgeon whose services to the poor in rural areas and slums of Karachi are praiseworthy, touched on important issues in his address.  Pointing towards the lack of any social welfare State in the SAARC region, Prof. Saleh Memon reminded his colleagues that it was their responsibility to educate the politicians and those in power corridors to realize their responsibilities of providing healthcare to the public.  He also had another piece of advice for his professional colleagues to collaborate with other disciplines referring to the increasing prevalence of diabetic retinopathy which was an important cause of preventable blindness.  His advice to create a balance between High-Tech and Community Ophthalmology was also timely because we tend to be carried away with latest advances and developments neglecting the basics and important causes of blindness which are easy to diagnose and treat thus making it highly cost effective. He also enlightened the audience about the human resource available in the field of ophthalmology in the SAARC Region and laid emphasis on research and documentation whatever we are doing to promote research culture.

We have time and again reminded the healthcare professionals that it will be much better if they start recognizing and respecting their own  professional colleagues  by inviting them as Chief Guest as such academic functions rather than running after the politicians and other bureaucrats who most often have nothing meaningful to say at such occasions. They must remember, no one will respect them unless they start respecting their own colleagues.  It is heartening to note that slowly and gradually medical profession is learning this lesson and now we see eminent medial personalities from different disciplines being invited as Chief Guest or Guest of Honour at various conferences which is indeed commendable. Let the medical profession continue with this tradition and it will prove to be in their own interest in the days to come. When  the conference organizers run after the politicians to invite them as Chief Guest, the meetings not only usually start late but security and protocol issues also become a serious headache and all this then seriously affect the smooth running of  scientific programme wasting lot of precious time.

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