An unseen consequence of the Abraaj downfall!

By Haider Mehdi.

Aman foundation, a private sector social impact organization offering major services in health care and technical training is winding down its operations in Pakistan, specifically Karachi, because of bankruptcy declared by Abraaj, its primary sponsor.

For Karachites this has serious consequences.

60 state of the art, fully equipped Aman ambulances, staffed by highly trained para medics and in some cases, doctors provided round the clock emergency support services to the citizens of Karachi, at nominal cost.

To date they catered to nearly 100,000 incidents with an average response time of 18 minutes.

The cost per incident ranged from Rs.5000 to Rs. 6000, but people were charged Rs. 800 to Rs.1100 depending on distance etc and those who couldn’t got it free.

Moreover these ambulances were crucial in providing the critical emergency medical care by highly trained para medics or qualified doctors to patients in the critical time from pick up to drop off to a hospital.

Like the 1122 service, this service was very effective and quite unlike the Eidhi or Chippa ambulances which are nothing more than a means of transportation, with no health care support in the transit time when it’s needed most by the patient.

While the Eidhi and Chippah services are better than nothing, they really are not ambulance services in the true sense of the service.

Following Abraaj’s bankruptcy, Aman foundation, now left with no funds and unable to sustain their operations, have been forced to dismantle operations.

15 ambulances have been taken over by NICVD (National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases).

Some reports suggest that the private sector South City Hospital and Aga Khan Hospital, may take the rest.

While NICVD will continue to serve its own clientele of heart patients, including the poor, but they will likely send some out to their satellite operations in interior Sind.

The private sector hospitals, as we know, will only cater to their own, and likely for only those who can afford them.

Consequently, your average Karachi citizen will most likely no longer have access to this critical and state of the art public service!

What now?

The previous PPP Sind government, with all its faults and whatever their political motivations, created a wonderful and sustainable model of free health care delivery to citizens.

In one case the vehicle was a government entity, NICVD and in another a private sector health care foundation called the Child Life Foundation, started by a near angelic being called Dr. Naseeruddin Mahmood.

Former PPP CM Murad Ali Shah, knowing the rampant corruption, handed over large sums of budgeted health care allocations to these two institutions.

Child Life Foundation (CLF), took over all Child emergency centers of all government hospitals in Karachi and in a few years changed the terrible and tragic statistic of 95% mortality of all children brought to the emergency centers into a 90% survival rate.

A miracle of sorts! Thanks to Dr. Naseer and his team!

They were able to do so by taking over the management and administration of these facilities, using trained medical staff and state of the art equipment and facilities, funded from their own sources and the government. A key factor also was being free of government interference.

In NICVD, Dr. Nadeem Qamar and Dr. Nadeem Rizvi, two amazing individuals, both government employees, completely revamped the NICVD and its processes, procedures and systems.

They established an independant governing board, enhanced salaries of doctors and staff to very respectable levels, prohibited private practice and wrought a near miracle in heart health care in Karachi and Sind, now offering near to world-class heart care even in remote parts of interior Sind!

Government funding was crucial to these two success stories, as ordinarily these funds are either siphoned away because of corruption or even more tragically, lapse because of lack of capacity.

Health care is a basic right. It does not fit into “return on equity” business planning frameworks. But a “return on well-being” quotient!

Therefore the civic, political and administrative leaders of Karachi, and any other city of Pakistan, who want state of the art ambulance services, must step up to the plate and establish similar partnerships as stated above.

People like Dr. Abdul Bari Khan of Indus Hospital, Dr. Adeeb Rizvi, Dr. Nadeem Rizvi, Dr. Naseeruddin Mahmood, Mushtaq Chaapra of The Citizen’s Foundation, Yousaf Jameel, now a caretaker Sind cabinet minister and the indefatigable Nazim Haji and others, must quickly get together to develop and operationalize a state of the art emergency ambulance service for Karachi with funds from the private and public sectors!

And I understand that their currently exists a Sind Ambulance service, which has not taken off, but offers an opportunity for Karachi’s and Sind’s civic leaders to adopt it and make it come to life!

In fact every city in Pakistan and its civic and political leaders and well-heeled business people must adopt this highly successful and sustainable model of public private partnerships, especially in health care and education.

An ideal partnership of political will, functional expertise and taxpayers money coming together for public good!

In its death throes, Abraaj may have unleashed a revolution of sorts in Pakistan.

Let’s wait and see who puts money and expertise where their mouth is!

  • Salaams and Prayer
    Haider Mehdi