Karachi role model of student philanthropy in Pakistan

Karachi: Karachi medical students are a role model for whole Pakistan when it is the matter of student philanthropy, and the Patients’ Welfare Association (PWA) of the students of Dow Medical College Karachi is doing a wonderful job in serving poor patients of the Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK).

The Patients’ Welfare Association, abbreviated as PWA, is a non-political, non-governmental organization (NGO) located within Civil Hospital, Karachi run by the students of Dow Medical College of Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS), which works for the medical aid of underprivileged patients by providing a number of services free of charge. The organization depends upon its donors and volunteers for its functionality and maintenance. Other than conventional charity donations and zakat funds the PWA also holds many fund raising campaigns such as bake sales and promotion in school campuses.

Established in 1979, by only three students of Dow Medical College, it soon transformed from being a small student-based organization to a much larger movement with much coverage of their humanitarian deeds being publicized by means of local television channels, newspapers, radio as well as their own newsletter which is circulated in their locality.

It was established as a small student based group with simple services such as free of cost drugs for needy patients. In the years to come the organization gained much popularity and by 1982 it had gained enough funds and volunteer force to form a blood bank and a Thalassemia follow-up clinic. With their influence spreading, in 1986 a diagnostic laboratory was also set up.

With the slogan “We feel, We serve,” their existence depends on service to the underprivileged segment of society. The organization achieves this by means of several departments which have been built within the vicinity of CHK.

Their drug ‘bank’ is a full-fledged pharmacy which provides drugs to patients free of cost. The drugs are also donated to follow up clinics including Tuberculosis and General follow up. The functioning of the pharmacy is solely depends on the student volunteers of the PWA. In 2004 the pharmacy was computerized which upgraded its functionality to a much level of efficiency and organization.

PWA Blood Bank provides hundreds of units of blood daily on exchange basis not only to patients of Civil Hospital Karachi, but also extends its services to patients all over the city. All units dispatched are screened for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV, Syphilis and Malarial Parasite, thus ensuring patient safety. The blood bank also provides blood components such as packed cells, platelets and fresh frozen plasma. The Blood Bank has also started the service of providing mega unit of platelets to patients of Civil Hospital Karachi, completely free of cost.

PWA Diagnostic Laboratory provides baseline biochemical and haematological tests to the registered patients of PWA Thalassemia Services and PWA Follow Up Clinics. The laboratory also provides facility of Complete Blood Count with Peripheral Film Study by a Consultant Haematologist for the admitted patients of CHK.

Previously working under the ‘Follow Up Clinics’, PWA Thalassemia Services was upgraded to a separate department with the start of transfusion facility for registered Thalassemia patients in 2011. The department has got hundreds of registered patients suffering from Thalassemia, a hereditary blood disorder. These patients are receiving regular blood transfusions and consultations by a qualified Haematologist along with regular diagnostic investigations completely free of any charge.

Follow up clinics provide medicine, free of cost, to patients suffering from Tuberculosis. The services provided include regular check-ups by qualified doctors and complete nine to twelve month medicinal courses.

Other than the Thalassemia and Tuberculosis specific department the general follow-up clinic provides medicine to patients suffering from various diseases and who need constant treatment.

The Patients’ Welfare Association holds many events; from fund raising activities to seminars concerning local medical issues. One of their main fund raising events is an annual ‘Food Mela’, a bake sale of colossal magnitude, where funds more than one million rupees have been gathered in recent years.

Besides PWA, former students of DMC called Dowitties also contribute generously to set up new operations theatres, laboratories, wards and other facilities and their generosity and philanthropy is unmatched in Pakistan which should be followed by students and doctors of other government-run medical colleges of the country, especially Sindh province.

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