Health hazards cut through rural-urban divide

July 15,2017

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ISLAMABAD: Halls of lavish hotels of Islamabad are full almost daily with the gatherings organised by national and international non-government organisations to work out ways for transforming lives with a focus on the lives that are lived away from urban centres.

But Saeedul Hassan, a health educationist, has risen as a rebel to challenge this fashion as he believes that saving lives is fundamental for rights activists and lives are threatened equally in rural and urban areas in certain circumstances.

A poet and father of two daughters and one son, Saeed says that it pains him that so many lives could have been saved but we let them go due to our ignorance. He said the society takes for granted health of women, not least expecting mothers, which results in miscarriages and birth of underweight babies.

Talking to ‘The News’ in the office of Human Development Foundation (HDF) that he leads as chief executive officer (CEO), he narrated his fresh poem depicting the dialogue that a yet-to-be-born baby is having with her mother. That dialogue carries all the information essential from the point of view of healthcare and answers to the taboos society holds about the health of expecting mothers.

Saeed said he conceived the idea for this poem at the time when his youngest daughter was to be born. “At that time, I lived the reality that how hard it is for parents, especially mothers, to have a daughter due to our social idiosyncrasies. I tried to address these (idiosyncrasies) in my poem,” he said.

Saeed’s approach to healthcare issues is different from the mainstream perspective on them as he believes that in some case population in urban centres is more prone to health hazards than those living in rural areas.

“Take the recent incident of a miscarriage in Islamabad because doctors at Polyclinic refused to treat a pregnant woman arguing that she was not registered with the hospital,” he said. Husband of the woman has stated that after refusal by the doctors at Polyclinic to treat his wife, he brought her to a private clinic where she had a still birth.

Saeed said health education is as much needed in rural areas as in urban centres. Complex infrastructure and bottlenecks in procedure at hospitals are adding to problems, he said. He said his interest is in health of child and mother though there are many other areas that the HDF teams address.

Saeed is always in search of local solutions to local problems and his vision has a lot to do with the success of about 300 model villages that his organisation has set up across the country. In addition, he said that they set village councils and help them break free from the main HDF offices to work independently. “Now their majority is working on their own and many of our council members have been elected in local governments. They generate their own funds and work independently,” he said.

Saeed is now fired up with the task to establish links with communities on modern lines. For this purpose, teams are working to devise Pakistani user-friendly Apps and computer assisted solutions. Saeed is confident that his new strategy to mobilise the society will be a blend of technology and tradition and pave the way for saving lives.


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