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  • Indus Hospital & Health Network provides 100% free of cost and high-quality healthcare
  • Each member of IHHN has the core quality of compassionate care

Interview with Dr. Abdul Bari Khan — the Founding President of Indus Hospital & Health Network

PAGE: Tell me something about yourself, please:

Dr. Abdul Bari Khan: I have had the privilege to have been the CEO of the then Indus Hospital. Now, I am honored to be the Founding President of today’s Indus Hospital & Health Network. I was born in Karachi, in a family originally from Peshawar. To my good fortune, I belong to a religious family widely known for their piety, altruism, compassion and generosity towards community and humanity.

I consider myself blessed to have inculcated these values since childhood and have tried my best to live my life promoting and practicing the same. My childhood, college and higher education is from Karachi and since my youth, I have been involved in community service.

I graduated from Dow Medical College, Karachi in 1986 and as a medical student, I was associated with the Patients’ Welfare Association (PWA) as a project in charge of the Blood Bank and Blood Fractionation Unit. After completing my MBBS, I was lucky enough to lead the PWA project to establish the New Emergency and Accident Unit of Civil Hospital Karachi through voluntary donations. I completed my fellowship in Cardiac Surgery in 1995 and trained at the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD). After completing my fellowship in 1999, I joined Civil Hospital, Karachi as a Cardiac Surgeon but without a Cardiac Surgery Department.

In around two years, with the help of various donors and philanthropists, we were able to raise PKR 30.5 million which helped establish the Department of Cardiac Surgery at Dow Medical College & Civil Hospital, Karachi. This would not have been possible without the philanthropy Pakistan displayed, and I am proud to have played a role in the Department of Cardiac Surgery which now serves as a model cardiac surgery ward of the country, providing free-of-cost Cardiac Surgery’ to non-affording patients.

Apart from my professional responsibilities, I also consider myself a social activist devoted to promoting healthcare facilities and services in the country. I truly believe that private participation in public sector hospitals is the cornerstone to improving the health sector, and I feel lucky to have been given the opportunity to promote this in all my endeavors.

Since my childhood, I’ve been taught to care for people. My father always told me to be good to people and by nature, I have always felt the pain of human suffering. So, naturally I was drawn towards medicine as a career and had always dreamt of setting up a model hospital to serve the underprivileged people of society. This dream hospital that I had created would not pressure the patient to pay exorbitant fees and so, to make this dream a reality, we started our efforts in 2005, and by 2007, we were able to get hold of a non-functional hospital known as the Islamic Mission Hospital. We renamed the institution to The Indus Hospital (TIH). Since then, TIH has evolved to become Indus Hospital & Health Network (IHHN) – a nationwide health network providing 100% free of cost and high-quality healthcare.

PAGE: How is Indus Hospital different from private hospitals when it comes to the quality of doctors and staff?

Dr. Abdul Bari Khan: At IHHN, our central ethos revolves around the high quality of care that we provide; without this, Indus would certainly not be Indus. Whilst I am sure that all private hospitals strive towards creating a workforce that is world-class, I will instead focus my commentary on Indus and our pursuit of the same. Not only does our workforce consist of some of the brightest minds of Pakistan; with both national and international qualifications and exposure, but they also continuously strive for their own development in providing excellent care to all.

However, what makes them special – and I am humbled to say this – is that each and every member of our staff, whether that is doctors, nurses, technicians, faculty, administration or even non-clinical staff, has inculcated within themselves the core quality of compassionate care. It is this endless compassion and utter belief in IHHN’s vision of excellence in healthcare, that leads to a magnificent combination that makes IHHN a truly unique institution.

PAGE: Could you tell us about the medical expenses of a patient who undergoes surgery?

Dr. Abdul Bari Khan: Indus Hospital charges nothing.

PAGE: How much would a patient incur in a private hospital?

Dr. Abdul Bari Khan: It is no secret that medical expenses not just in Pakistan, but in fact globally, have reached exorbitant levels. However, what further aggravates this situation is that 21.9% of Pakistan’s population lives below the poverty line and over 400,000 households fall into poverty every year due to health expenditures.

Just imagine that in Pakistan, the average per-patient cost of treatment for cardiovascular disease and cancer is anywhere upwards of PKR 300,000; for diabetic complications, this can range from anywhere between PKR 85,000 – 130,000; for pediatric intensive care, parents are faced with the brutal cost of PKR 125,000 every single day that their child spends in the PICU and; for complicated births, the cost is upwards of PKR 90,000.

For Pakistanis, where the average monthly income is PKR 40,000, these medical expenses are clearly nearly impossible to meet. From the lens of Indus, the provision of completely free-of-cost services for all of the above and more, can mean the difference between life and death for millions. However, we too struggle particularly given the recent price hikes in the cost of raw materials, medications and equipment as a result of Pakistan’s inflation rate. Our annual expenditures in Karachi are expected to rise from the current amount of PKR 12 billion to PKR 15 billion in the coming year. Aggravating this is the patient inflow at all our facilities, which has increased by almost 42%. Also, more than PKR 1.5 billion – a significant proportion of our funds – has also been invested in the provision of emergency relief services to the flood-affected areas of Pakistan.

Therefore, it is clear that we are in a time of critical need and it is my sincere appeal to everyone to come forward and contribute openheartedly to Indus Hospital. I have full faith that with the help of Pakistanis at home and abroad, along with our unshakeable belief and faith in the Almighty, we will be able to continue on our mission of providing free-of-cost, high-quality healthcare to all.

PAGE: How would you comment on the business opportunities for private hospitals in the days to come?

Dr. Abdul Bari Khan: Speaking from a broad perspective and of course taking insights from our experience at Indus as well, there is no shortage of business opportunities for private hospitals. From medical tourism, wellness programs, telemedicine, home services, health tech integration, medical education, corporate health programmes, research and clinical trials, rehabilitation services and much more, private hospitals have the resources, sophistication and experiences to engage in activities that can take them to the next level in providing high-quality healthcare.

PAGE: Do hospitals like Indus Hospital and private hospitals complement each other in any way?

Dr. Abdul Bari Khan: As I have always maintained, true progress toward a healthier, more prosperous Pakistan cannot be achieved without the support of local and international partners.

At IHHN, we believe that a robust health sector includes both public and private providers, individuals, global stakeholders and partners. Such partnerships enable pooling of the expertise and resources for development along with ensuring community outreach, access and sustainability of health services to the most deserving members of the society. Whether that is through referral mechanisms, sharing of knowledge, ideas and research, or creating partnerships for more effective care, working in alignment with all stakeholders is central to development.

In that light, it is my humble submission that any transformation of a cosmopolitan city like Karachi, and Pakistan as a whole as well, is simply not possible without collaborative efforts of various stakeholders who are united by one vision – to uplift the health of its people.