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Pakistan: Hashmanis Making Healthcare Accessible And Affordable – Interview

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Arsalan Hashmani is one of the distinguished entrepreneurs of Pakistan. At present he is CEO of Hashmanis Group of Hospitals and Vice President of Hashmanis Medical Welfare Foundation (HMWF). He is also the Vice Chairman of World Memon Organization – Global Youth Wing – Pakistan Chapter. He graduated in Accounting and Financial Management from the University of Waterloo, Canada. He acquired master’s degree in Accounting and is a certified Financial Analyst (CFA). He is son of Dr. Sharif Hashmani, a well-known eye surgeon in Pakistan.

Hashmani believes that healthcare is not simply a matter of diagnosing or treating an individual, but it is about helping people to lead a wholesome and healthy life.

His ambition led him to take control of responsibilities of a reputable Hospital in Karachi which was established in 1971 by Dr. Sharif Hashmani. He, along with his father spared no effort to make Hashmanis Hospital a tertiary care hospital that aimed at offering 25 different specialties along with 5 tertiary ophthalmology hospitals.

Hashmanis Hospital has rapidly expanded and became the only hospital in Pakistan performing certain treatments. The Hospital is counted among a handful of hospitals in the world to perform advanced treatments such as laser assisted (bladeless), cataract surgery and Topography Guided LASIK.

His philanthropic services to the society led him to organize a number of Eye and Medical camps yearly in Pakistan. Through these camps millions of patients benefit as they receive free of cost treatments from Hahsmanis Medical Welfare Foundation.

Nearly, ten thousand free eye camps have been organized to date and virtually 1,000,000 patients are treated free of cost while 2,000,000 surgeries have been performed successfully.

Following are excerpt from an exclusive interview with Arsalan Hashmani

Let us begin this conversation with Covid pandemic, how you have been coping with it? 

Arsalan Hashmani: As the country faced lockdowns due to COVID-19, we also didn’t have any option but to close down our eye hospital for a while. But it was not the solution and we have to re-engineer our working. Over the last one year we have established diagnostic laboratories in various parts of Karachi and installed state of the art equipment. We are not only the pioneer in Corona testing, but also in administering vaccination. 

 What has been the driving force?

Hashmani: Our incredible journey started when Dr. Sharif Hashmani established Hashmanis Hospital. The name symbolizes a pioneering vision and standard of care. With state of the art instruments and latest technology, Hashmanis have successfully performed numerous surgeries that are done nowhere else in Pakistan. The hospital is also credited with introducing several new technologies and procedures in Pakistan.

Our phenomenal growth would have not been possible without Hashmanis Medical Welfare Foundation that has been providing charity eye and medical care services since 1979. Our mission is to bring healthcare of international standard within the reach of every individual. We are committed to achieving and maintaining of excellence in education, research and healthcare for the benefit of humanity. We believe that healthcare is simply not about diagnosing or treating an individual, but it is about helping people to lead a wholesome and healthy life.

Who are your major partners in making eye care affordable for all?

Hashmani: Since commencement of our operations, our goal has been to develop services that significantly improve the lives of as many people as possible. To achieve this goal, Hashmanis Medical Welfare Foundation along with World Memon Organization has joined hands with Sri Lanka Eye Donation Society to provide Corneal Transplant to the needy patients, anywhere is Pakistan.

At one time there was a lot of talk about cornea transplant, are the operations still going on at the same pace or have slowed down?

Hashmani: As you may be aware it is an expensive surgery, our collaboration to serve the underprivileged is paying a key role in restoring vision free of cost and leading perfectly normal life. As the government has limited healthcare budget, private sector and citizens have to play a major role. As regards cornea transplant, we have to develop a culture of donating eyes in the country; we just can’t live on eyes coming from Sri lanka.

Hashmanis Hospital now appears a key player in Karachi, how you have been meeting the growing demand?

Hashmani: You know that Karachi has a huge population, exceeding 30 million and the city has expanded so much that one facility can’t serve the entire city. We have established facilities in various parts of Karachi. I am pleased to inform that we have established facilities at Ocean Mall and Lucky one, a new concept in healthcare.

In your opinion what role society and philanthropist can play in medical care and particularly eye are affordable, particularly for the underprivileged

Hashmani: You may be aware that Hashmanis Medical Welfare Foundation manages one 100 beded tertiary care general hospital in Saddar Karachi where hundreds of patients are provided with free medical services in over 25 specialties. Besides this we regularly organize medical camps throughout the year across Pakistan.

I am delighted to share with you that the Hashmanis Medical Welfare Foundation is run mostly on Zakat and Donations regularly contributed by philanthropist. While people contribute generously we still need funds to serve the underprivileged, not only in eye care, but all sorts of treatment. 

There is no denying to the fact that eye is a very fragile and sensitive part of the body; does it need extra care also?

You have rightly said that eye is a very fragile and sensitive part of the body. People living in urban areas may be aware of this fact and taking some care, but the problem is really acute in rural areas. People need regular checkups, medicines and treatment to avoid impairment with growing age. However, in rural areas there is lack of facilities, because the government has limit funds at its disposal. We have to create awareness about eye care, especially in the rural population. 

What are the common eye problems in Pakistan and why people don’t seem concerned?

Please allow me to explain this in the simplest words that the eyesight gets weak with the age as well as due to working in ‘hazardous’ environment. We can’t stop deterioration due to the growing age, but can certainly slow down the process. However, in this regard the individual has to play the key role, visit ophthalmologist regularly, take medicines and even go for minor/major surgery if required to avoid total blindness.

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Shabbir H. Kazmi

Shabbir H. Kazmi is an economic analyst from Pakistan. He has been writing for local and foreign publications for about quarter of a century. He maintains the blog ‘Geo Politics in South Asia and MENA’. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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