SINA will open more clinics, services in near future

SINA will open more clinics, services in near future

Interview with Mr Asad Mujtaba – COO, SINA Health Education & Welfare Trust

PAGE: Tell me something about yourself and SINA, please:

ASAD MUJTABA: I joined SINA as Chief Operating Officer in 2019. I hold an MBA degree and various certifications. I have gotten diversified experience of various industries while working with reputable multinationals for 30 years in Pakistan & abroad. SINA Health, Education and Welfare Trust is a privately funded not-for-profit organization, serving the community since 1998.

SINA is operating a network of 33 clinic locations of which 2 are referral clinics and 3 are mobile clinic locations. These collectively cater to the needs of more than 800 thousand individuals annually. SINA provides quality primary healthcare to the less privileged people in our society, of which majority are women and children. More than 80% of patients treated at the SINA clinics are Zakat eligible.

SINA Welfare Trust aims to facilitate and provide primary healthcare services to people keeping in mind the basic financial hurdles, economic challenges, unemployment crisis and mobility issues. The services provided at the NGO include primary healthcare, authentic and quality medication, laboratory tests at par with mental health counseling, hepatitis screening and referrals to secondary healthcare. The NGO also provides awareness sessions at their facilities for breast cancer, HIV, COVID-19 safety protocols and more.

Understanding the urban slum population’s struggle to make ends meet and medical care becoming a non-priority, SINA has developed an effective and efficient primary healthcare system for a token charge of Rs.20 to the underprivileged communities and zakat eligible patients in order to delay the need for secondary care and restore the quality of life. At SINA, PMDC-registered doctors undergo specialized training before being deployed and are required to adhere to a strict set of protocols for consultation and prescription. These medical practioners are monitored and audited to ensure standard of care and consultation is maintained. As per WHO directives and government regulations, Pakistan’s core focus should be on primary healthcare to diagnose ailments at early stages and reduce complications of chronic diseases. For early detection of diabetes that is properly managed on a daily basis reduces the risk of renal failure. Similarly, primary healthcare plays a crucial role in reducing maternal mortality as well as child mortality. Pakistan’s Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) stands at 186 deaths per 100,000 live births, one of the highest in Asia. SINA Welfare Trust has set a new objective of prioritizing maternal health and providing accessibility to expectant mothers with adequate care, medication and timely ultrasounds to monitor gestational health and development.

PAGE: Could you tell us about the idea of the formation of SINA?

ASAD MUJTABA: When SINA’s chairman, Dr. Asif Ali Imam, saw the poor condition of the people in the vicinity of Baldia Town, he felt there was dire need of basic healthcare facility as there was none available at that time. He established a clinic for the most deserving people in that community. That is how the idea of SINA evolved. It started with a single clinic in Baldia town to now 33 clinics in the urban slum areas all over Karachi.

PAGE: What kind of hurdles you and your team went through in the initial years of SINA?

ASAD MUJTABA: Team formation was a hurdle.  The chairman devoted his personal time to build the team and gradually things came together. Financing the operations and other expenses was the major challenge.

PAGE: How imperative is it to get government support in addition to the donations and zakat for the smooth functioning of SINA?

ASAD MUJTABA: Due to inflation and increasing prices of medicines, construction & human resources cost, it is getting very challenging to manage expenses along with maintaining quality of healthcare. The donors who have committed with SINA are facing similar challenges. Hence, their support is also limited and not sufficient to manage SINA’s expenses while maintaining the quality standards. In the last 23 years SINA is able to manage operations through the generous support of committed donors along with a number of unpledged donors. Till now SINA has not received any direct financial support from the local government. Going forward, support from Government would be highly needed to be able to provide healthcare to a greater number of people as the need is very much there. SINA can share the burden of primary healthcare with the government by extending its operational expertise of managing healthcare units in the communities.

PAGE: What changes could we witness at SINA five years down the line?

ASAD MUJTABA: With the commitment and support of generous donors & possibly the government. SINA aims to achieve the following:

  • Creating more job opportunities
  • Capacity building and training of Staff
  • Establishing new SINA clinics in other deprived and needy areas
  • Focusing and treating more relevant diseases in the community
  • Offering more services like ANC & Mental Health.

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