In a country like Pakistan where poverty and abject suffering still reign supreme for at least half the people, and state welfare is non-existent while healthcare is minimal, the most terrible fate to strike the poor is terminal cancer.
Impoverished families are usually faced with having to choose between nurturing healthier members or caring for the dying one at the others’ cost. The heartbreak of parents is indescribable when a child is struck down by cancer.
The pain and mental distress apart, the patient is abandoned, at times by their own family members, when they are unable to care for themselves. They die prolonged, agonising deaths compounded by loneliness, hunger, thirst and neglect. It was for these countless forgotten, invisible terminal cancer patients that Dr. Saira Khan founded the hospice Rahat Kada in 1991. It’s main focus is on pain management and total physical and emotional care, keeping the patient as comfortable as possible till the very end, while maintaining ties with the family which is enabled by lifting the burden of the crippling cost of care from their shoulders.
To promote the much needed awareness of the early detection of cancer, the Medical Aid Foundation conducts medical camps on a regular basis. So far over 250 medical camps have been held in the last five years. Several birds are killed with the same stone by providing primary health care and family planning services and advice at the same time to poor patients. A dedicated team of 22 specialised doctors and volunteers man these camps for long hours until every patient is served. Patients requiring surgical treatment are identified at these camp after which they receive specific treatment in Karachi. The Foundation bears the cost of treatment and medicines.