off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid

Pakistan Cardiac Society
in the good old days?

Though Pakistan Cardiac Society was registered in late 60s but it remained dormant for quite some time and there was not much activity. Hence it was mid 70s that it was decided to make it functional. With this objective in view, the first such formal meeting was held in the Library of National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) Karachi. It was attended by Lt.Col. M.H.Shah, Prof. Shaukat Ali Syed Executive Director of NICVD, Dr. Ali Muhammad Chaudhry from Hyderabad, Prof. S. H. Shafqat, Prof.M. Sharif and Dr. Abdus Samad. At that time Gen.Ali Masood Akram was President and Dr.Ali Mohammad Chaudhry was acting as Secretary.

During the meeting Prof. Shaukat Ali Syed opined that Dr. Ali Muhammad should now be made the President and Dr. Abdus Samad who had recently returned from USA should be asked to work as Secretary as he being the youngest will be more efficient and run the PCS affairs smoothly. Prof. Shaukat Ali Syed further stated that there are no funds hence how the society can function? Hence it was decided that all those present will pay Rs. Ten thousand each as life membership fee, Prof. Shaukat Ali Syed himself was the first one two wrote a cheque in the name of Pakistan Cardiac Society and handed it over to Dr.Samad. It was followed by Dr.Ali Muhammad Chaudhry, Prof. Sharif, and Col.M.H. Shah and all other present. When Dr.Samad started writing the cheque, Prof. Shaukat Ali Syed remarked, you have just come, do not have much practice, if you spend all what you have brought with you from USA, you will get frustrated, fed up and won’t stay in Pakistan and go back to USA. Hence, you just pay Rs. Five thousand only. An account was then opened in the name of Pakistan Cardiac Society and other members outside Karachi were asked to pay the membership dues.

It held small meeting, one in collaboration with PMA and this session on cardiology was chaired by Prof. Sharif Chaudhry. Then one of the patients had come back from United States after getting a pace maker implanted. Prof. Shaukat Ali Syed rang up Dr. S. H. Naqvi a noted Family Physician and told him that this case can be discussed in a meeting to let doctors know that after implantation of pace maker, the patient’s quality of life improves and it was a latest treatment modality. Hence this meeting was organized for the family physicians. However, the first formal scientific meeting by the Pakistan Cardiac Society was organized at Rajputana Hospital Hyderabad. Dr. Samad contacted Surgeon Abdul Ghaffar Jatoi and suggested that we should hold a scientific meeting who not only appreciated the idea but also pointed out that the founder of Rajputana Hospital at Hyderabad was keen to host a meeting. He has offered to make all arrangements if we can organize a meeting at their institution which was going to be inaugurated shortly. Hence, the first meeting was held during 1976 where Col. M.B.Azami pointing towards Maj. Gen. A.M. Akram said that you have been President for the last three years, why you did not organize even a single meeting? At this Dr. Ali Muhammad Chaudhry remarked being the Secretary of PCS it was his responsibility to organize meetings but a general body meting cannot be held without a scientific programme. No one will come just to attend the GB meeting. Now we have organized this scientific meeting, we will also hold the GB meeting. Mr. Zuberi the then Managing Director of MSD (he died a few years ago) sponsored the travel of Maj.Gen. Ali Masood Akram and Dr. Hafeez Akhtar from Rawalpindi for this meeting.

Earlier President of American College of Cardiology Prof.. Charles Fish alongwith a team which also included an eminent Iranian cardiologist an authority on Hypertension, visited Pakistan during April 1975. A workshop and scientific session was also organized at NICVD which was attended by over one hundred fifty doctors. Prof. Shaukat Ali Syed said that he will arrange the food for the ACC team form his house while Dr.Samad was asked to arrange Lunch Boxes of Biryani from Delhi Muslim Kali Hotel located off M. A. Jinnah Road near Dow Medical College. Mr. Zuberi from MSD offered to sponsor the lunch but Dr. Samad told him that he had to take permission from Prof. Shaukat Ali Syed who won’t agree. Later Prof. Shaukat Ali Syed also paid for the lunch for the participants as well as for the dinner which he hosted in honour of the visiting ACC delegation.

Prof. Shaukat Ali Syed had also made arrangements for the visit of the ACC team to Lahore, Rawalpindi-Islamabad and Peshawar. At. Lahore, it was Prof.Akhtar Khan who was the host while at Rawalpindi-Islamabad they were looked after by Gen.Ali Masood Akram. In Peshawar it was Prof. Nasiruddin Azam Khan who was the host. He gave this responsibility to Prof.M. Kabir who arranged their visit to the tribal areas, Torkham border and lunch at Khyber Rifles Mess to the delight of the visitors from United States who thoroughly enjoyed their visit to Pakistan.

We are talking about the working of the Pakistan Cardiac Society in the good old days but all this has now changed to a great extent. A vast majority of the members of the PCS just like other healthcare professionals, have been infected with the materialistic virus, organizers of the cardiology conferences use this occasion to make money. They pressurize, coerce and even do not hesitate to threaten the pharmaceutical trade and industry to cough up millions of rupees for these conferences. Not only that, they even make money on hotel rooms which are initially booked by the organizers at a concessional rate but later sold to the pharma trade and industry to accommodate the guests they have sponsored, at an exorbitant rates. They being in a vulnerable position, cannot do much, have no option but to pay all that though if they make hotel bookings of their invited guests themselves, the hotels offer and charge them much concessional corporate rates. Unethical practices are rampant so much so that some of the cardiologists if they could manage would like to have all the daily meals and their utility bills paid by the pharmaceutical trade and industry. However, it is also heartening to note that one does hear some saner voices as well from physicians like Prof. Khawar Kazmi, Dr. Bashir Hanif, Dr.Asad Pathan, Prof. Saulat Siddique, Prof. Shahryar Sheikh, Prof.Ejaz Ahmad Vohra, Prof. Bilal Zikarya just to name a few but their voices are drowned in the sea as the vast majority of PCS members and the conference organizers in particular are not prepared to listen. Yet there is another group which do not like these unethical practices but they find themselves helpless, many do not have the courage to say it openly for various reasons. Things have gone so bad that at the last cardiology conference held at Faisalabad, one even heard some cardiologists discussing these issues openly and even there was a suggestion to make a separate group of Pakistan Cardiac Society (Ethical Group). In the absence of any control and accountability, these unethical practices are increasing with the every passing day in which some pharmaceutical companies whose objective is to increase their sales and market share using all unethical practices to influence the healthcare professional’s prescribing practices, are also in the forefront to corrupt the doctors. Situation never used to be so bad but it seems to have crossed all limits. Prof. Feroze Memon is the current President of Pakistan Cardiac Society. He is very humble, energetic, believes in ethical practice and over the years has also realized that participation from the pharma trade and industry should be keeping up the professional ethics and he even practically demonstrated it at the cardiology conference which he and his team organized at Hyderabad. However, to expect him to control all the senior members, some with their own vested interests is asking for too much. It is beyond his control and capabilities. Hence, it is the duty of some senior cardiologist’s members of the Pakistan Cardiac Society to come forward and prevail upon all others, lay down some clear guidelines and make sure that unethical practices are checked and not repeated. Will they ever wake up and perform their duty and responsibilities in this regard only time will tell.

Tail Piece: Trust is the best currency and to build that one has to be honest.

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