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  •  LRBT provides high-quality eye care services to the underprivileged population

Interview with Mr Najmus Saquib Hameed — honorary Chairman, LRBT

PAGE: Tell me something about yourself, please:

Najmus Saquib Hameed: I’m the honorary Chairman of LRBT. I’ve spent my career working with leading global organisations and have led companies and teams both in and out of Pakistan. For the past 19 years, I have been serving in various capacities at the LRBT, and for the past 8 years as Chairman. My time with LRBT has been the most rewarding period of my life.

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

Najmus Saquib Hameed: The work that LRBT is doing is nothing short of a miracle. We provide free eye care for the underprivileged and are the largest organisation in Pakistan to do so. LRBT, effectively, is the backbone of eye care in Pakistan. With 19 hospitals in 17 cities, and 61 primary eye care centers, we have developed a network accessible to everyone in Pakistan. Every person in Pakistan is at most a 3-hour bus ride from one of our facilities.

The only income stream of LRBT is donations and zakat. We rely on the generosity of corporate and individual donors to meet our expenses.

LRBT (Layton Rahmatullah Benevolent Trust) is renowned for its commitment to providing high-quality eye care services to the underprivileged population of Pakistan. As such, we are driven by our mission: “No man, woman or child should go blind just because he/she cannot afford the treatment”. This social mission drives LRBT’s commitment to serving marginalised communities and ensuring that quality eye care is accessible to all, irrespective of whether they can afford it.

LRBT specialises in ophthalmology and eye care services, which allows us to concentrate our efforts, resources, and expertise on a specific area of medical care. We proudly serve our patients with world-class medical expertise in this field.

As a charity, a significant part of our focus is on engaging with the community to screen and diagnose eye diseases and identify areas of high need. Our Community Outreach department conducts free screenings and health camps which act as patient funnels, bringing in deserving patients into our hospitals.

Of course, a major distinction between us and private hospitals is our reliance on public charity and donations as our source of income. And with this income, we have thus far treated 53 million patients, a number which grows by about 3 million each year.

Finally, as a charity organisation, our commitment to upholding the highest levels of medical and moral ethics is our top priority. We believe in complete financial and operational transparency. Instead of spending on luxurious buildings and office furniture, we aim to keep introducing state-of-the-art medical equipment & facilities and procedures at our hospitals, totally free for deserving patients. In fact, our overheads at 4.7% of Operating Expenses are the lowest in the development sector, which is a testament to our financial responsibility and our resolve to ensure that virtually all of our donations are spent on patient treatment and care.

PAGE: Could you tell us about the medical expenses of a patient who undergoes surgery? How much would a patient incur in a private hospital?

Najmus Saquib Hameed: LRBT charges nothing to patients who cannot afford the treatment. We have a comprehensive system of assessing the zakat-eligibility status of each patient who walks into our facilities, and all deserving patients are provided our services free of cost. Of course, many financially stable patients, some even our donors, come to LRBT to benefit from the high quality of our services. These patients often choose to give us a generous donation after receiving treatment and care at our facilities.

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

Najmus Saquib Hameed: Pakistan’s population has reached record high levels with a growth rate of over 2.5%. We will need all the resources available to us as a nation to treat our sick. Private hospitals, of course, will most likely be busy in the days to come. And the only way forward is to keep providing high-quality services at affordable rates for the people of this country. That is the sustainable and humane way forward.

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

Najmus Saquib Hameed: We are part of the healthcare ecosystem of this country. Although our focus is on those who live around the poverty line we do receive referrals from private-public hospitals due to our state-of-the-art equipment and our highly experienced doctors and paramedics.