Fundraiser for Koohi Goth Hospital Karachi
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali
Pictures by Azmi Gill

The stage play titled "MeiN JeouN Gee Sar Uthake" is perhaps a true story of Gul Bano, a Pakistani girl from a remote mountain village in the Khuzdar District of Balochistan province, who suffered from obstetric fistula for several years before coming to the Koohi Goth Women Hospital where she was treated. The play enacts child birth by untrained midwives which happens to be the main cause of obstetric fistula.

The educative play drew wide applause at the fundraiser for the Koohi Goth Women Hospital Karachi held at the Chandni Restaurant on Sunday, September 15, 2013.

It was a colorful event with a thrilling performance by renowned Pakistani classical dancer Sheema Kermani. She has joined the hospital founder, Dr Shershah Syed, in promoting the humanitarian cause of treating thousands of poor women. Alarmingly, fistula is 99.9% a disease of extremely poor women, no one from the affluent families suffers from it.

Sheema Kermani, Dr Shershah Syed and their team were on a fund-raising trip to the United States. Their itinerary‎ included more than a dozen US cities - Washington DC, Atlanta and Orlando, New York City, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, Houston, Austin, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Fremont.

Koohi Goth Hospital, in Landhi, Karachi, was established by Dr Shershah Syed – a renowned gynecologist – at his family’s land. Now, the hospital is one of the few large and well-equipped facilities in Pakistan which specialize in treating obstetric fistula and detaching women from the stigma which the condition carries with it.

To borrow Agnes Becher of IDEAS Communication Officer, after studying infertility medicine in Ireland and the UK, Dr Shershah was drawn back to Pakistan by a strong sense of social responsibility for the country that had subsidized his medical education.  

The hospital’s initiatives have been recognized internationally by the United Nations Children’s Fund, United Nations Population Fund, International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, and Global Clinton Initiative.

In Pakistan alone, fistula cases average 6,000 a year and a woman dies in childbirth every 18 minutes. The UNFPA puts Pakistan's maternal mortality ratio at 553 per 100,000 live births.

The hospital treats more than a 1,000 patients out of the about 6,000 cases which are reported in the country. According to Dr Syed this condition remains one of the most under-reported and hushed-up health problems of women.

Patients come to the hospital from areas where even basic health facilities are hard to find, such as, Badin, Quetta, Peshawar and Thari Mirwah. Besides treatment, Koohi Hospital has a rehabilitation center for patients who are admitted in the hospital for months.

Apart from treating women at the Koohi Goth facility free of cost, a midwifery school is imparting training to midwives. Surgeons are also trained to perform the surgeries and teams then set up small units all over Pakistan. The patients are taught life skills and vocations during the long rehabilitation process. The hospital relies on donations to meet its running expenses.

The main aim of the hospital is to become a teaching facility. “We don’t want to become a medical college which has of late become a lucrative business,” Dr Syed told the Express newspaper. “We want to teach in areas where training is lacking, such as nursing, paramedics, technicians and midwives.”

Dr Noshin, a resident of Bay Area, was one of the local promoters of the fundraiser for the Koohe Goth Women Hospital. She was happy to see a manifestly positive response from the community.

Sheema Kermani, the founder of Tehrik-e-Niswan, has joined hands with Dr Shershah Syed to promote health services for poor women in Pakistan. Her thrilling performances have given a big boost to the efforts of Dr Syed who has an ambitious plan to have a 500-bed hospital in the next development phase.

Tehrik- e- Niswan (The Women’s Movement) was formed in 1979. Tehrik’s initial focus was on organizing seminars and workshops and taking up issues like “Violence on Women”, and “Chaddar and Chardiwari.” The Tehrik later moved away from seminars towards cultural and creative activity like Theatre and Dance to convey its message.

Sheema Kermani's classical dances and the passionate play "MeiN JeouN Gee Sar Uthake" motivated the audience to embrace the humanitarian cause of helping deprived sisters and brothers in their native homeland.


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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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