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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Prof. Abdul Rashid Gatrad’s Journey from Postman to UK’s Renowned Doctor

Renowned pediatrician Professor Abdul Rashid Gatrad advocates for vocational training in Pakistan, highlighting his extensive humanitarian efforts and transformative healthcare initiatives worldwide.

Professor Abdul Rashid Gatrad OBE, OBE, DL, FRCP, Hon FRCPCH, MRCS, one of Britain’s most senior and esteemed Consultant Paediatricians, has urged the Pakistan government to provide vocational training to the most underprivileged children, aligning this initiative with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

As the CEO of Midland International Trust (MIAT), Professor Gatrad has successfully raised over £3 million for various health-related development projects globally. One of his notable achievements is the construction of a state-of-the-art cleft hospital in Gujarat, Pakistan.

This project was so professionally executed and impactful that it was featured in a 15-minute documentary by ITV. The hospital offers all services, including surgeries, free of charge, funded primarily by Muslim and Pakistani donors in the West Midlands.

Awards and Work

Professor Gatrad, who holds the position of Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health at three universities – University of Birmingham, Universities of Kentucky and Wolverhampton – was honoured with the OBE from the Queen in 2002 for his services to ethnic minority children in the Midlands.

In 2014, he was appointed Deputy Lieutenant to Her Majesty the Queen for his services and was made Freeman of the Borough of Walsall for his significant contribution in reducing the death rate in newborn babies and his involvement in the research into the Hepatitis Vaccine that was subsequently rolled out globally.

Born in India but working in Pakistan, in 2003, Prof Gatrad met Mr Khwaja Mohammed Aslam, a Pakistani bus driver and businessman, who was the chairman of Midland International Aid Trust UK (MIAT).

He was invited to become the CEO in 2005. Since then, the charity has significantly improved the lives of hundreds of thousands around the world – particularly children. At the time, MIAT had only £20,000 of working capital and Pakistan was the only country where humanitarian aid was provided. Since then, Rashid has dedicated his time, effort, energy and money to expand MIAT’s reach – now in over 20 countries.

Professor Abdul Rashid Gatrad, who began his career as a postman before becoming a doctor in 1971, largely financed a state-of-the-art 3-storey hospital through MIAT. This hospital, which houses audiology, speech therapy, dental services, 2 wards and 2 operating theatres, is supported by 4 doctors who provide round-the-clock operations and free medical aid to patients of the area, including those who travel from far and wide. The hospital grounds also have playing facilities.

In 2016, during a visit to Gujarat, he encountered a female teenage street beggar on crutches with bare and bleeding clubbed feet. This encounter led to Professor Rashid Gatrad establishing the clubfoot centre where now hundreds are being treated from birth – avoiding operations when older.

Read More: One Homes Unveils $35 Million Investment in Luxury Apartments for Overseas Pakistanis

He said: “I request the Government of Pakistan to pay attention to vocationally train children and youth to empower them, especially girls. This will be good for Pakistan’s long-term development. Currently, there is no focus on this area. We are prepared to work with Pakistan to support the effort. We have completed a huge maternity and a children’s hospital named after my mother Jubaida in Gujarat, Pakistan which now is dedicated to cleft operations. This hospital is a demonstration of what can be achieved. Our charity goal is to reduce poverty and improve health outcomes from sustainable projects for thousands of the most disadvantaged populations in over 20 countries across Africa and Asia.”

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“The Jubaida Gatrad hospital was completed in 2015 and now provides employment to many. MIAT has provided medical equipment, and the hospital is attracting more and more people to Gujarat city. After I set up the club foot centre at this hospital in 2016, Ruth Lawson from the British High Commission attended its inaugural opening to witness the highly trained international cleft/clubfoot surgical team from the UK that I had assembled. The Overseas Plastic Surgery Appeal (OPSA) team of 20 strong travels twice a year to Pakistan. All give up their time free for projects in which I have led the development of a very clear and targeted model of interventions – namely an integrated and multi-sectoral pathway of care of children that resources local healthcare capacities to screen them, and in the process provide children access to education through, for example, help with hearing and speech therapy. Now an intensive care centre is under construction, funded my MIAT,” he added.

Collaboration with Deafkidz International 

The director of Deafkidz International, Steve Crump visited the centre in 2017 and hailed it as a revolutionary set up for a facility like that in Pakistan. Over subsequent 3 years he helped develop the audiology services. The professor said “Collaborating with Deafkidz International, we have screened 20,000 children with deafness, in Punjab, Pakistan.

Now 20 million people in the Sindh district have access to this service that I helped set up and facilitated. Improving such disabilities and supporting education, particularly for girls, ensures that children take their rightful place in society and do not beg on the streets with a potential for abuse and trafficking…”

“Over the last 15 years, in addition to the cleft and club foot centres we have set up in Pakistan a , a breast care service for women, an artificial limb fitting centre, which houses the club foot centre named after my father Mahomed Gatrad, cataract camps, hearing services for the new-born, dental services and an outreach clinic for elderly and pregnant women in Sooklan Gujrat”, he added.

The veteran doctor’s work extends to over 20 countries, including Somalia, Malawi, Gambia, Syria, Bangladesh, Haiti, the Dem Rep of Congo, and Nepal where he provided 1000 huts for families with children, the elderly and the disabled, after the earthquake in 2014. ‘’A lot of my international work is funded from my NHS salary donated through the GAYE scheme over the last 15 years. In addition, I get strong financial support from connections with the business people world-wide in countries such as Dubai, UK, S Africa etc.”

The doctor explained that through MIAT projects, he has arranged over 5000 cataract operations in Pakistan, Kashmir and Malawi; delivered over 500 cataract operations in Bangladesh; carried out 40 operations in Sierra Leone on teenage girls with vaginal fistulae; delivered food provisions, fresh water and blankets to refugees in Syria, Jordon, Kenya and Lebanon; built a 3Km fresh water pipeline in a village in Somalia; built houses in Malawi in Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan after the floods and supported vocational training projects in Sierra Leone, Malawi, Turkey, India, Kashmir and Pakistan.

Professor Gatrad emphasizes the importance of vocational training, particularly for girls, to foster long-term development in Pakistan. His charity’s goal is to combat poverty and enhance health outcomes through sustainable projects across Africa and Asia.

Despite his age, Professor Gatrad remains dedicated to his mission, advocating for initiatives like World Against Single Use Plastic (WASUP) and continuing his humanitarian efforts worldwide. His unwavering commitment serves as a testament to the power of compassion and determination in creating positive change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article was received directly from the reporter.