My article for ARY Blogs:
The war on doctors in Pakistan and how we can end it.
Once upon a time, in a city by the sea, there lived a people haunted by dragons. These great beasts would pour forth fire and brimstone, leaving those touched by their wrath either dead or disabled. In time – as often happens in such stories – there arose an elite band of braves who rejected the status quo and travelled far and wide, sleeping little by day and studying much by night, in their ceaseless quest to discover the secret to the dragons’ destruction.
These scholar-soldiers called themselves ‘dragon-slayers’ (‘Dr.’, for short) and set up academies to train new heroes from the populace. They built strange, white castles called ‘hospitals’ to defeat the creatures and opened the gates to all who had been troubled by the foul beasts. They worked hard to perfect new potions and to test those potions rigorously before use. And, in contrast to all those who had claimed to be heroes before them, they used the immense power of the ancient magic of ‘science’ .
Through many years of trial and error, the heroes’ hard work paid off. Soon, many of the beasts had been quelled – the monster known as ‘small-pox’ was the first to be dispatched and soon others such as ‘TB’, ‘polio’ and ‘malaria’ were driven back to their caves – though they proved much harder to kill. The people rejoiced, for a time, but soon they took for granted the doings of these men of science and, while they respected them, they were ignorant of the ‘hows’ and the ‘whys’ behind the successes of these clean, white castles.
Eventually, a time came when some of them took to murdering the dragon-slayers who belonged to tribes different from theirs and, after each such killing, they would proudly proclaim their heinous crimes in the blood-drenched streets of that city by the sea. And all the while, the dragons grew stronger.
The heroes – disgusted at the unfairness of it all – packed up their families and potions and, wiping a small tear from the corner of their eyes, took one last, long look at their beloved motherland before pushing off into the stormy sea for distant lands. And with their passing, that strange, distant Land of the Pure sank deeper into a new dark age.
This fable is our reality.
Our doctors are leaving Pakistan.
Polio is on the rise.
Here’s what we can do about it:
· Learn how to use the mosque. A national, pan-sectarian consensus exists on the unlawfulness of the murder of innocents and the promise of hellfire for those who dare to do so. Proclaim it from the pulpit. Every pulpit. In every mosque. Repeat ad infinitum.
· Devolve, devolve, devolve. Have a small clinic attached to one mosque in every UC. It will be staffed by one doctor and will employ people of the same UC to promote the concept of ownership and to have transparency. Major roundabouts will have one ambulance – stationed at all times with a paramedic – donated by philanthropists of the same area who can see their money put to good, noble use. At the town level, there will be a larger trauma centre equipped with an X-ray machine and an ultrasound and the truama centres will, in turn, report to tertiary care facilities (e.g. Abbasi Shaheed). Most patients will be dealt with on the smaller levels to avoid swamping the tertiary care centre and to promote preventative, public health at the grassroots level.
· Educate. Make it mandatory for every madressah to have time devoted to basic scientific principles. Teach them about Avicenna and Rhazes, Avenzoar and Geber. It’s our fault for not reaching out to them and sitting in our white castles. It’s time we changed that.
This prescription is provided gratis with the hope that some version of it may one day be implemented, that our heroes may return and the dragons banished forevermore.