Doctors among the poor in Salik Town slum
by Shafique Khokhar

The Heal Foundation Pakistan provided medical care to 175 patients yesterday at a local Catholic church. Five people were diagnosed with TB and will be followed until they are completely treated. For the local parish priest, Fr Tahir Rauf, it is “serving the people like the apostles”. Looking to the future, he promises, to “conduct a second phase soon.”

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – The Heal Foundation Pakistan, an organisation dedicated to promoting health, empowerment, and literacy, set up a free medical camp yesterday at the Catholic church in Salik Town, a Faisalabad slum, to provide free medical assistance.

Salik Town is a poor, predominantly Christian area with some 250 households living in extreme poverty, without the means to buy medicines and pay for medical consultations.

“We do not have a basic health unit in our area,” said Fr Tahir Rauf, the local parish priest. “I hope that thanks to the efforts of the Heal Foundation, the rate of diseases will be reduced”.

Before setting up, the Foundation conducted a comprehensive survey of local living conditions. It found that most residents are day labourers (street sweepers, factory workers) who earn very little, and are unable to lead a dignified existence.

The most common diseases found in the area are tuberculosis, diabetes, and hypertension.

Several medical professionals offered their skills free of charge. They include Dr Sajwal Bhatti, Dr Arooj Khalid, a gynaecologist, and Kaynat Mehmood ultrasound specialist, as well as paramedical staff and members of the Foundation.

For the first time, the initiative included two representatives from a government health unit, who analysed samples taken from tuberculosis (TB) patients.

Five people seriously affected by the infectious and highly contagious disease were identified, who will be treated free of charge, with medical examinations and assistance until they are completely recovered.

At the medical camp, 35 ultrasound scans were performed under the careful observation of qualified personnel. About 90 per cent of the patients were checked with medical records collected from some 175 patients.

Cooperation between the charity and Fr Tahir Rauf was admirable as the clergyman made the church available for the camp.

After the camp, Shahbaz Aziel, managing director of the Heal Foundation Pakistan, thanked the entire team and locals who provided logistical support.

Fr Tahir Rauf also expressed his gratitude, saying that the team was “serving the people like the apostles of Jesus Christ and providing their best services for the healing of poor people from different diseases.”

Above all, the initiative was also meant to pave the way for greater awareness about health issues, and a greater commitment to ensure the well-being of the poor people of Salik Town.

“[A]fter the suggestion of the team I will contact the government departments to clean the area properly,” he said.

“People are also very thankful to the team for the services they were provided free of cost; we will conduct its second phase soon,” he added.