With Peshawar’s lone institute of cardiology still under construction, a group of heart surgeons in the provincial capital have started offering heart surgeries for the poor for free.
Keeping in view the demand which originally prompted the provincial government to build the Peshawar Institute of Cardiology (PIC) — the facility unlikely to start functioning before June with posts only just been sanctioned — cardiac specialists from the Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC) have decided to offer free services to patients.
Interestingly, the doctors are offering their pro-bono services without requiring patients to produce any identification.
“Patients are not being asked to produce an identity card since it [free service] is being done to serve humanity, and not just to Pakistanis,” a senior HMC official said hinting that they were also treating Afghan refugees.
He added that they had dedicated an entire floor at the HMC’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Center (CRC) along with an operation theatre for this purpose.
Doctors stated that many patients with cardiac problems were visiting the facility. However, those facing immense financial problems could not afford the surgeries and died before someone could help them.
“Yes, this idea was floated by Dr Zahid Aslam Awan, head of the cardiology department and we have carried out some 26 surgeries last month,” confirmed HMC’s Medical Director Dr Shahzad Akbar, adding, “we have the HMC and some philanthropists sharing the burden [of the surgeries].”
He added that they were not too keen on making the development public immediately since they wanted to first see how many patients could the specialists manage apart from managing the flow of required resources.
“It could have created problems for us and ultimately those in need would have suffered,” he cautioned, adding that they plan to go public with the project soon. He was quick to add that the government knew about their efforts and had even reached out with offers of support.
Asked how they were determining that the services were being provided to deserving people, Akbar stated they had set up a procedure to spot pretenders. He stated that they were also accommodating patients with Sehat Sahulat Cards.
Senior government officials from the health ministry lauded the HCM team and encouraged them to continue.
“This should not stop even after PIC starts offering services, and I assure you it [PIC] will start in the next few months, but I must say these doctors [offering free services] are doing a great job,” the health ministry official said.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2018.