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HomeMain News 4Kalam-e-Natammam-An autobiography by Prof. Tariq Saeed Mufti is full of revelations and...

Kalam-e-Natammam-An autobiography by Prof. Tariq Saeed Mufti is full of revelations and admissions

This interesting read offers many lessons for the readers and new
generation of healthcare professionals in particular

There is now an increasing trend among the healthcare professionals to compile their autobiography, share their life experiences including professional life which at times is full of professional hazards. This also provides an excellent opportunity to the readers to learn some lessons if they are interested. Prof. Tariq Saeed Mufti noted surgeon who has the privilege of working at numerous public and private sector medical institutions as surgeon besides occupying coveted positon of Principal and Chief Executive Officer is the latest additions to the list of those medical personalities who has dared to share his life story with the readers. Kalam-e-Natammam in Urdu his autobiography is full of revelations and admissions which is full of pearls of wisdom and offers lessons to those readers who are interested to learn particularly the younger generation of healthcare professionals.

Prof. Tariq Saeed Mufti

He is quite different from his elder brother Prof. Khaid Mufti a well-known psychiatrist of the country whom I know the most, our relationship lasting for well over four decades. I also have had the pleasure of knowing and interacting with Prof. Tariq Saeed Mufti for the last over three decades, had in depth discussions with him since he also used to edit various medical journals some of which he helped found, hence we had a good rapport but I always found him a bit abnormal personality.

In fact, these are the people who are genius, who are eager and keen to do experiments, go for innovations and thus make some positive contributions in their chosen career and profession which is very much depicted in his contributions as a surgeon and medical teacher in his later life for which he must be commended. It is also a fact that no one can dare to reveal everything about his personal and professional life but the closer to reality it is, interesting it becomes for the readers.

A few weeks ago I was delighted to receive a signed personal copy of the book and it is naturally expected that after going through it I will review it and give my feedback. Firstly, I was too busy due to multifarious professional engagements, travels and secondly I already had another book to review which was pending, hence it took some time. It was an interesting read and I came to know much better the personality of the author, the numerous problems and difficulties he had to face in his personal and professional life which did affect his personality to a great extent. The numerus diseases from which he had to suffer and managed to get them successfully treated also provided him an opportunity to see how the patients feel how painful and frustrating it is when they are treated for their diseases by the healthcare professionals.

The three hundred six-page book is divided into numerous chapters. It covers his life in childhood, days spent in the old city of Peshawar, the culture and norms of those days, days spent in primary and secondary schools, the method of teaching, physical punishment inflicted by the teachers, the attitude of the teachers, the college life in Edwards College which is full of adventures and revelations, years spent as a medical student in Khyber Medical College, House job at Lady Reading Hospital, travel with Hajj Caravan, his interest in sports. He also shares the tips and tricks adopted by the doctor’s community to establish private practice, highlights the unethical practices including how the patients from public hospitals are directed to the private clinics of the faculty, the role played by chemists who refer patients on commission and a lot more.

It also covers his family tree and details about his immediate family, brothers, sisters, their children, parents besides grandparents. The days spent in England during postgraduate training are also covered in detail in addition to shedding light on some NGOs and social welfare institutions. What is most interesting is his admission that he doesn’t have the courage to reveal everything about his personal and professional life but he does not hesitate to admit some of the professional blunders he committed during training as House Officer and young faculty members.

Hence, it offers lot of useful lesson for the younger generation of healthcare professionals to benefit from it and refrain from making such blunders. It is always better to learn from personal mistakes and even more beneficial to learn from mistakes committed by others Like many of us he also does not know the exact date of his birth except that he was born early in the morning during winter hence the parents decided to name him Tariq which means early morning star. The only thing he remembers is that it was perhaps the Year 1947 as his uncle told him. I myself at some time decided to fix my date of birth as January 1st 1948, Dr. Tariq Saeed Mufti writes. The autobiography supplemented with appropriate couplets at some places has made it still very interesting and it also depicts his interest in Urdu literature. The following couplets which he has added in the preface conveys a lot:

He spent many years of his professional life in Abbottabad first as faculty member, then as Principal and later as Chief Executive as well hence he has written extensively about the city of Abbottabad which he loves the most. He has lot of good words to say about his teaher Mr. Ziaul Qamar who was also a distinguished actor who used to speak in stylish English. I also had the pleasure of listening to him as he was often invited by the professional specialty organizations to conduct and moderate their social and cultural evenings during conferences and it was always a treat to see his performance and listen to him.
As a class representative of Anatomy in Khyber Medical College he initiated the campaign to revive the old tradition of joint education and training of boys and girls which was discontinued from this year. All students wanted to continue the old tradition of combined studies and training for which I was held responsible and soon labeled as trouble maker and had to pay the price for this, Tariq Mufti adds. No students team was now prepared to share the dissection table with me. This was the time that I learnt a bitter lesson that all those who speak loudly for you never come to your rescue when the difficult times come, it is much better to stay away from leadership, hence always followed the right path in my later personal and professional life.

He has lot of good words for his clinical teachers like Prof. Nasir Uddin Azam Khan, Prof.Raza Ali, Zakia Minhas, Mumtaz Khattak, Prof. Shafiq psychiatrist, Prof.Feroz Shah, SAR Gardezi, Prof Siraj and Prof. Alam Khan Afridi just to name a few. He also reflects on the competence and ability of examiners during the final professional exam which alas is seldom seen these days. He finally graduated in 1971 and how I cleared all the subjects, he admits he does not know? He has the courage to admit that he learnt how to administer IV injection from the nurses, one sweeper helped him to open the Oxygen Cylinder, and how he learnt to pass urinary catheter from a ward boy.

The autobiography also covers how the new comers after completing their training overseas are treated by the local medical heavyweights who suffer from professional jealousy and would try to create as many hurdles making the life of new comers difficult hoping that sooner or later they will get frustrated and return back. He particularly refers to Prof. Amjad Hussain a noted cardiothoracic surgeon who had come back to Peshawar after completing training in United States but eventually had to return back to United States. That is how we keep on losing the talent. He got training in neurosurgery at JPMC with Prof. I.H. Bhatti and later did many orthopedic and neurosurgery procedures as well during his professional life when these specialists were not available at Ayub Medical College and other institutions he had to work.

When he saw his prescription lying outside his clinic, he was told that after taking twenty-five rupees consulting fee if you prescribe Panadol, that is exactly what will happen no one will give any importance to you. That shows the patient psyche who is never satisfied unless you write a few expensive medications as well. Having practiced in Dagbani area in Peshawar helped me learn lot of tips and tricks of establishing private practice but I always tried and preferred ethical medical practice, Prof.Tariq Saeed Mufti writes. He also reminds that one should never do any surgical procedure on one’s relatives, near and dear ones. He saw one of his close relative die soon after operation as she went into multiorgan failure. Later when I became surgeon myself I realized that attempting surgery despite low electrolytes was a professional blunder. Complications during surgery can occur with any experienced surgeon as well, hence one should be extremely careful and prepared to handle any likely complication.

He also admits of having done appendectomy on a patient who was admitted for removal of her kidney stone, that was one such surgical error and this is no surprise to find out and is well documented that thousands of patients suffer and even die due to medial errors all over the world. Another orthopedic patient he treated went into kidney failure since he was suffering from Vitamin-D deficiency which was not corrected before surgery but luckily he survived these serious complications. He rightly advocates that now junior doctors must get training on simulators before actual treatment of patients. Use of Manikins and simulation is now quite common in most of the teaching and training institutions. He served as Dean of Surgery in CPSP for four years and contributed a lot like designing the clinical log book, establishment of Clinical Skills Center with the help of hiscolleagues whom he has given due credit.

While working as Chief Executive of Ayub Teaching Hospital he learnt that one should never sign on any papers or file brought at the last minute by the staff hence I made a very few mistakes as compared to my predecessors. Once an official came and requested for some undue favours which he had the courage to decline. Once during a meeting with the then, provincial Governor Lt-Gen. Syed Iftikhar Hussain Shah wherein he was blamed of ignoring the official orders. He had the courage to tell the Governor that he cannot compromise on clearly laid down principles and preferred to resign and go back to his previous positon of Head of the Dept. of Surgery which also shows how one has to face the music at the hands of those in power corridors.

He was diagnosed to be suffering from cancer for which he had investigations in Pakistan and also travelled to UK and USA, suffered from myocardial infarction twice but luckily survived. He was instrumental in setting up the Research Department at Ayub Medical College, honoured the retired Principals and Faculty by presenting them Mementoes as Principal of Ayub Medical College. After retirement helped the newly established medical college at Kohat and was successful to attract talented experienced faculty and get is recognized by PM&DC. During the procedure he also learnt how some people provide electro medical equipment and instruments on rent for newly established medical colleges to help them get recognized and soon after inspection, all the equipment is taken away to be used at another newly set up medical college.

He used his expertise and valuable experience to establish medical college at Kohat on sound footing, started a medical Journal KUTS Medical Journal, identified Dr. Akhtar Sherin a young faculty member who was made its editor. Prof.Akhtar Sherin is now Chief Editor of this journal which was later renamed as Khyber Medical University Journal and has emerged as a distinguished Editor and is an important Core Committee Member of PAME which is running Certificate Courses and Diploma in Medical Journalism at University of Health Sciences Lahore.

Prof.Tariq Saeed Mufti also had the privilege of serving as Founder Principal and Project Director of Rehman Medical College an affiliate of Rehman Medical Institute and used his decade’s professional experience to get it recognized from PM&DC within record time. Prof. Rehman was lucky to have acquired his services and gave him complete freedom to run and manage the college affairs. He also had the privilege of seeing death very closely many times once during Haj when he was almost massacred in the stampede during performing the ritual of throwing stones at the Shaitans. The traffic accident which his family members suffered in UK while his elder brother Prof.Khaid Mufti was driving and he was on duty in the hospital, had its own impact on his family life.

He had angioplasty for the second time during 2002, he had recognized it immediately hence got it treated and got a new lease of life. He suffered from epidermal cyst and retinal hemorrhage which were all treated and managed well in time. He bought a brand new Fridge for Rs. Eighty from his house job salary of one hundred rupees and presented this gift to his mother which she cherished and always used to tell family members about this. He was lucky to find a good life partner as his wife and has acknowledged her as well as all his other family members and brothers who stood with him in difficult times.

Readers will find this autobiography very informative and interesting and I would specially recommend it to the medical students, fresh medical graduates and young faculty members as there is a lot to learn from which they would find extremely helpful in their professional life. Prof.Tariq Saeed Mufti is at present working as Educational Advisor at Rehman Medical Institute and is also Professor Emeritus at Khyber Medical University. He was recently honoured with Lifetime Achievement Award by the then President Dr. Arif Alvi at the annual conference of Rehman College of Dentistry last year. SAJ


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