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Meet the doctor who left job in UK’s kings college to serve his people

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Srinagar,The trend of leaving for green pastures in foreign countries is often witnessed among medical fraternity in Kashmir, but only a few take courageous decision of leaving fat salaries in dollars for re-settling in Kashmir to work for their brethren.

One such example is of Dr. Mir Samiullah, a resident of Shopian who left job in United Kingdom’s Kings College hospital to start his own super-specialty Star Hospital in Srinagar’s uptown Sanat Nagar area.

Having done his schooling from Burnhall School, he did his MBBS from Jammu, then MCH from Hyderabad and later joined Kings College Hospital for 2 years. Dr. Samiullah has worked in prestigious hospitals in private sector in other states as well as in government hospitals in Kashmir.

But he says that his passion to work according to his wish and aspirations of the people was the contributing factor for him to take the mantle of establishing his own super-specialty hospital which finally took shape in 2016 in the form of Star Hospital.

“It was not an easy journey, I had to work hard to establish and start a hospital. When I started in 2016, situation turned bad after Burhan Wani’s death. People started telling me that I made a mistake but my passion to work for people and support from well-wishers encouraged me in this journey. Thanks to Allah today the hospital is established and growing with each passing day.”

“There is this urge to work for your own people. Though I am not earning half of what I was earning in UK, but the satisfaction is there. Seeing the happy face of your people after getting their treatment is worth millions of dollars for me,” said Dr. Samiullah who is consultant Gastroenterology.

Dr Mir Samiullah claims to have completed one thousand laparoscopic and cancer surgeries at Star Hospital since its inception.

Dr Samiullah has completely changed the concept that high end surgeries cannot be performed in Kashmir private sector.

The surgeries performed include laparoscopic cancer surgeries, laparoscopic fundoplication, single incision gallbladder surgeries, hernias, liver and pancreatic surgeries, stomach and esophageal surgeries and peri anal surgeries like fistula and piles surgeries. Many of these surgeries were previously considered impossible in valley and people had to go out of state for such operations. The best part of this is that these surgeries are being performed at very affordable costs.

“There is dearth of quality health care institutions in private sector. Our government hospitals are overburdened. For a simple surgery, one has to wait for months, leaving patients with no choice but to visit outside state for treatment, where they have to pay hefty sums for minor issues.”

“Before starting Star Hospital which is a 50-bedded health care institution I have worked in a well reputed private hospital where for a simple gall bladder surgery, they would charge around Rs 70000 to Rs 1 lakh. But here the same surgery is being done by us at maximum Rs 14000.  It shows you the difference a private hospital can bring.”

However, he believes that doctors who work in government as well as private sector create a trust deficit among patients. “Unfortunately in the private sector there is a dearth of trust.  As these doctors operate patient then leave them at the mercy of paramedics as he has a dual job in hand. But in private sector we need full time consultants who are there for patient whenever he/she needs them.”

“That is the main factor where we are lacking in Kashmir in the private sector. It leaves our private health care sector in peril and forces people to visit outside state for treatment, it is bad for patients as well as for state’s income.”

“I have seen people selling land, properties to get treatment outside, which they could have done at meagre costs in Kashmir,” he said adding that there is need to develop private sector beside government sector health care. If we take an example of New Delhi, few years back AIIMS was pinnacle of health care institute but now you see private sector is taking over.

“Similarly in Kashmir we are far behind in health care, our government hospitals need to improve and adopt latest modes of technology. For example liver transplant costs Rs 25 to 30 lakh outside, but if SKIMS does it, it won’t cost more than 6 lakh. Unfortunately in last 20 years they have not been able to do it.”

On being asked about the health insurance, Dr. Samiullah believes that it could be game-changer in the health sector and patient care. “In Kashmir, concept of health insurance is not popular. But outside people are well aware about its benefits. We are witnessing that people have to sell everything for getting treatment, but if we would invest a small amount in health insurance there is no worry for people as it would take care of them in bad times.”

“There is concept of micro-insurance introduced by renowned cardiologist in Bangalore, Dr. Devi Shetty. He asked farmers of a particular area to contribute Rs 5 each month and he would take care of their heart diseases. “With the result now if the farmers or any other member of their family suffer from any heart ailments, that micro-insurance takes care of their expenses.”

“I discussed similar proposal with former chief minister late Mufti Sayeed. I asked him that we should start it in Kashmir. As there are many families who cannot afford to get health insurance, for them this micro-insurance could be a game changer vis-à-vis health care. Unfortunately he passed away, since then the project is in pipeline. But I am planning to do it keeping other options in mind.”

When asked about his advice for entrepreneurs/medicos interested in venturing in private health care sector, Dr. Samiullah said, “We have to provide quality and affordable health care in private sector. There is need of engaging full time consultants. Our private hospitals cannot afford to charge same amount which corporate hospitals in Delhi or any other place are charging. We are a poor state where per capita income is low, so keep in mind your people and their plight. If they keep in mind these things, success is theirs.”(By Mukeet Akmali)