HIGHLIGHTS

  • Spurning the temptation to remain abroad, in 1971 he returned home to establish his specialty at Civil Hospital in Karachi. This public hospital possessed no instruments for treating renal patients at the time, not even an operating table.
  • Beginning with urology surgery, RIZVI expanded his clinic’s services year by year, patiently adding dialysis treatment, ultrasound testing, and other high-tech facilities.
  • His clinic blossomed into a separate department, and in 1992, became an autonomous institute within Civil Hospital: the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation, or SIUT.
    SIUT today is an oasis of cleanliness, efficiency, and excellence, with the latest equipment and a dedicated staff of more than four hundred doctors, nurses, and technicians, providing services once unheard of in a public hospital in Pakistan to over one hundred thousand patients a year–for everything from kidney stones to end-stage renal failure.
  • Dr. RIZVI and his staff train young doctors in urology and engage in research shared with hospitals, medical schools, and research centers throughout the world. The institute is a model for others in Pakistan and beyond.
  • The RMAF board of trustees recognizes “his transcending the limits of a public service hospital to make kidney dialysis, renal transplants, and other life-saving medical services available free to thousands of Pakistani citizens.“

 CITATION

In Sindh Province, Pakistan, poor people suffer disproportionately from kidney and urinary system diseases. Stones are a common scourge, and every year three thousand men, women, and children face end-stage renal (kidney) failure. For these people, early death is certain without dialysis or an organ transplant. Yet specialized treatments like these are rare and generally exorbitant in Pakistan; the cost of dialysis alone is four times the average annual per capita income. As a government doctor, Syed Adibul Hasan Rizvi believes it is wrong for such life-saving measures to be so hopelessly out of reach. At his state-of-the-art institute in Karachi, he provides them free of charge.

Indian-born Rizvi studied medicine at Dow Medical College in Karachi and for nine years honed his surgical skills in Great Britain, specializing in urology. Spurning the temptation to remain abroad, in 1971 he returned home to establish his specialty at Civil Hospital in Karachi. This public hospital possessed no instruments for treating renal patients at the time, not even an operating table. Allotted an eight-bed unit in the Burns Ward, Rizvi set to work.

Beginning with urology surgery, Rizvi expanded his clinic’s services year by year, patiently adding dialysis treatment, ultrasound testing, and other high-tech facilities. In 1985, he performed Civil Hospital’s first kidney transplant operations. Constantly outstripping the meager funds available, Rizvi motivated private donors to supplement government allocations. His clinic blossomed into a separate department, and in 1992, became an autonomous institute within Civil Hospital: the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation, or SIUT.

Rizvi’s institute today is an oasis of cleanliness, efficiency, and excellence. With the latest equipment and a dedicated staff of more than four hundred doctors, nurses, and technicians, it provides services once unheard of in a public hospital in Pakistan to over one hundred thousand patients a year–for everything from kidney stones to end-stage renal failure. In 1997, the institute administered thirty five thousand dialysis sessions; ninety-seven individuals received new kidneys. The cost of all this runs to more than four million dollars a year. But Rizvi believes that everyone, rich or poor, has a right to good health care. At his institute patients pay nothing.

At SIUT today, Dr. Rizvi and his staff train young doctors in urology and engage in research shared with hospitals, medical schools, and research centers throughout the world. The institute is a model for others in Pakistan and beyond. And soon, on a site donated by the government of Sindh, a new five-story SIUT kidney center will house one of the most modern medical centers in South Asia. Seventy percent of the institute’s expenses are now met through donations. Contributors include Pakistani philanthropists and generous companies like the Dewan Group. But prominent among them are hundreds of grateful patients and many thousands of Pakistani Muslims who dedicate a part of their annual zakat alms to support SIUT.

Bespectacled and with a shock of white hair, 58-year-old Rizvi is “the conscience of Karachi,” says an admirer. In a city torn by ethnic strife, his institute is a haven of tolerance. When talking about SIUT’s work and needs, Rizvi draws attention not to himself but to his staff and beloved patients, the vast majority of whom represent the rural folk of Sindh. Reflecting on the kidney transplant that saved his life, one of them says, “One can’t imagine what a blessing this place is for a country like ours.”

In electing Syed Adibul Hasan Rizvi to receive the 1998 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service, the board of trustees recognizes his transcending the limits of a public service hospital to make kidney dialysis, renal transplants, and other life-saving medical services available free to thousands of Pakistani citizens.

 RESPONSE

Excellencies, Chairman and Trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, Friends, Ladies & Gentlemen:

I am very happy to be here with you today to receive the Ramon Magsaysay Award. I feel honoured, humbled and deeply moved that you should give this prestigious award to an ordinary doctor from Pakistan.

I believe that this prize is a recognition of the power of team work, community effort and the true grit and determination of people. It is the recognition of the fact that in spite of crushing poverty, illiteracy and other problems chaining us down, the evolution of the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation from an 8-bed ward to a state-of-the-art Institution is because man craves and demands his basic right to good health.

This evolution has not been easy. SlUT had its teething problems and running it has been, and still is, a tireless daily struggle. This is because we at the SIUT, while seeing our own expansion, remember that everything around us is expanding at the same time. You cannot afford to indulge even for the shortest period of time in testing your own oars. You must continually drive the vast machine forward at its utmost speed. To lose the momentum is not merely a personal loss but also a loss for my team.

Ladies and Gentlemen, today I have come to Manila as beneficiary of a trust. I say I come as a trustee for I am aware that this prize is much more than a personal honour. I am standing here mainly as a representative of my team doctors, nurses, paramedics. The community at large has supported us generously in coin and in kind. Journalists have always supported our cause and guided us. Last but not the least I represent the patients; both the fortunate ones and the unfortunate ones. Fortunate are those who are living; unfortunate were those who are dead and died simply because of want. I dedicate my cash prize to the SIUT fund in the memory of such patients.

This award has propelled me and my colleagues at the SIUT to consolidate and expand our work being mindful of future generations. Let it never be said by them that indifference, cynicism and selfishness made us fail to live up to the ideal of humanism which the Magsaysay Award encapsulates.

I accept the award with total gratitude to the Foundation and to the people of the Philippines.

 BIOGRAPHY

Rubina was only in her teens when she faced a serious problem. She was suffering from chronic kidney failure and her doctors told her she had only two choices: to undergo dialysis treatment for the rest of her life or to undergo a kidney transplant. The dialysis treatment would have cost Rubina’s father 160,000 rupees a year. The transplant would have cost him 300,000 rupees. Either way, he could never have hoped to raise that much money.

Then, Rubina’s family heard of the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation, better known as SIUT, at Civil Hospital, Dow Medical College, in Karachi. Civil Hospital itself is a typical government hospital-dingy, maze-like, and crowded. One journalist describes it as “one of the dirtiest in Karachi.” Patients’ relatives who have no place to stay in Karachi sleep on the ground floor of the hospital, while their loved ones undergo treatment.

But SIUT, which began as a ward at Civil Hospital, is an entirely different story. A recent visitor notes how the third floor of Civil Hospital, where the kidney unit is located, stands in stark contrast to the rest of the building: the unit is “spanking clean,” the marble floors gleam, the walls seem to have just had a fresh coat of paint, and everything is efficiently organized. In the dialysis room, visitors have to change from their shoes or sandals to specially provided slippers. The institute director, the visitor is told, demands cleanliness at all times.

(For the complete biography, please email biographies@rmaf.org.ph)