The AWF Hospital: Past, Present and Future
By Marwah Kiani:
8 years ago, at the inception of Azmat Welfare Foundation, I was a bright-eyed teenager whose involvement in the charity pretty much started and ended at baking for fundraisers. I was excited at the prospect of being able to do something amazing, but I never considered what would happen when we did it. Today, my involvement still involves a lot of baking, but I feel that I can provide a new perspective on the hospital given my (albeit limited) experience.
Flash forward to 5 years ago, walking around the newly built Azmat Welfare Hospital in the humble village of Khabble, a few hours from the capital, Islamabad. I truly started to understand the gravity of what we had taken on – in front of me was this magnificent hospital, with the potential to help so many, and that too, free of charge.
Since the hospital opened its doors to patients, it has been providing vital services to those in the surrounding area. To give you an idea of their previous healthcare provision: the nearest healthcare services in the next town over are expensive private clinics. To reach an adequate government health service, the journey is upward of 2 hours. Given most residents of the village don’t own cars, let alone have the money to pay for their transport, I don’t think “inaccessible” even begins to cover it.
Healthcare in Pakistan is privatised, and thus, the quality of care is often proportional to the amount paid for it. Sure, if you’re getting treated at a top hospital in Lahore, we could compare this treatment to what you might expect in the West. But if you’re getting treated by a public health visitor in a rural village 2 hours from Islamabad, you might expect much less. The state of healthcare is another blog post in itself (to follow!), but I want those reading this without any background to understand what we were going into.
The hospital is still in its early stages, with a modest number of staff including two doctors, one pharmacist, one nurse and a myriad of support staff. It is not what you might expect when you hear “hospital” in the West. It is mostly providing vital primary care services and outpatient services, with the additional availability of a pharmacy, laboratory testing and imaging. Another service provided is access to an ambulance, which can take patients who we cannot treat (due to lack of facilities) to the nearest government hospital. It seems like such a simple thing, to provide an ambulance, yet we take for granted how lucky we are to have ambulances merely minutes away wherever we are, which is far from the case in rural Pakistan.
For a recently opened facility, the hospital is doing incredibly well to support its patients as best as it can, but we want to do more. We didn’t start up this charity with the intent to stop now. So, where do we go next? When you think about the facilities that might be necessary in a small rural village, you can imagine that high up on the list is maternity services. This is something we have aimed for from the start of the project and we would like to work towards. It’s no small task, especially given the experience and facilities required to manage maternity care. However, it’s a long-term goal. We can start small, providing ante-natal and post-natal care, which is so imperative to pick up complications earlier rather than later. Another future aim is to provide specialist services at the hospital on a regular basis. This would require building up a reputation of our hospital so that specialists want to offer their services using our platform.
The future of the AWF hospital is very much in the hands of our supporters. We ask for your support. If you have supported us in the past, we would love if you could continue to do so. If you have not, please consider us for your Zakat, Sadaqah or just your average charitable moments. If you can, we ask for regular donations (as little as £3 per month), as without constant donations, we cannot maintain, let alone develop, our hospital. Just for your peace of mind, we have a 100% donation policy – ALL your donations go to maintaining the hospital.
Thank you so much for reading this (if you’ve made it this far!), I hope you consider donating to a charity very close to my heart.
4th Year Medical Student, University of Birmingham
Youth Ambassador, AWF