REDMOND, Washington — Free health care has been a dream for many. It can be hard for many to afford it, leaving millions sick and unable to do anything. However, Indus Hospital is hoping to change this. Each month, Indus helps 500,000 Pakistani patients. Indus has done this all while remaining nonprofit, being supported by the people who believe in Indus’s cause. This article will explore the shared future with Indus and what drives it.
For many years, many Pakistani citizens lacked proper medical attention. Even now, 50% of the Pakistani population does not have health care. Wanting to make a difference, Dr. Adbul Bari Khan, a well-known surgeon, and his friends wanted to create a primary health care system that was available to all. Indus Hospital started in 2007, with just one hospital in Karachi, specifically Korangi. Featuring 150 beds, it was a humble beginning, but it proved to be an immediate success. Indus quickly began to receive more patients over the years, and they began to open more hospitals and offer more services, building up a shared future with Indus.
Indus operates on a common hospital structure, focusing on three layers: primary care centers, secondary care hospitals and tertiary care hospitals. Out of these three, Indus has the most primary care centers, with a total of 36 recorded in 2023. These centers primarily focus on simple matters, such as vaccinations or fevers. Adeel Siddiqui, someone who has worked closely with Indus, explained the abundant focus on smaller medical centers.
Despite only fulfilling basic needs, primary care centers have proven to be important for Indus. For one, many of these clinics are located near multiple Pakistani families, many of whom don’t have enough money to travel to hospitals far away. “By creating primary care clinics that can serve the people where they sit,” Siddiqui said, “Indus can reach more people and treat them more cheaply.”
Because of the close access, a patient can check in with a doctor to see if they have a severe disease, and control it before it becomes dangerous. Siddiqui told us, “If you treat a kid who’s been vomiting with a little bit of fluids and get them better, that’s way more cost-effective than if the kid gets so sick that the kid needs to be hospitalized, then the cost of a fluidization and trying to treat a solute case is more expensive.”
If a primary clinic is unable to solve a certain issue, then they turn to regional hospitals, which have more facilities to treat more severe cases. If there is something more serious, like cancer or surgery, then they are directed to tertiary hospitals. Transferring a patient is made convenient thanks to Indus’s paperless system, using electronic records to file patients instead. If a returning patient comes, then they can look at their profile and quickly log them in. This makes things such as blood delivery a lot easier, and ensures that Indus has an effective working system.
Indus is a nonprofit organization, and it is fully funded by people who want to support them. One group that has been strongly supporting Indus is the Friends of Indus Hospital, an organization dedicated to raising awareness for Indus. Adeel Siddiqui, a founding member of the Seattle Center of Friends for Indus, explained why he is part of this group: “The members of Friends of Indus Hospital here are people who believe that Indus Hospital is doing great work and want to support Indus Hospital.” This group has been established across the United States, and they have had the goal of spreading awareness of the Indus hospital.
The most notable event for Friends of Indus are the yearly fundraisers, which give people the chance to use their money to help patients in Pakistan. “Indus has been remarkably effective at making their donor’s money impact be bigger in the lives of the poor people,” Siddiqui said. In these fundraisers, even a few dollars can impact the lives of someone across the world. For example, by just paying $5, your donation will allow a patient to be fully treated.
“To do that for a cost that is so limited,” Siddiqui said, “makes the donors feel really good that even if they gave 100 dollars, that that’s going to help 20 people, and for some of those 20 people it could be a life-saving, — if not life-saving, life-changing — event.” These fundraisers have continued to be a large source of income for Indus. In just the Seattle area alone, they have raised a maximum of $800,000 during one of their fundraisers.
Shared Future With Indus
Currently, Indus serves around 8 million patients across 13 hospitals and 21 health care centers. Adeel Siddiqui emphasized the importance of Indus’s work. “About 20% of people in Pakistan have access to quality health care, and Indus is changing the equation on that by establishing these clinics throughout the country, and by providing reasonable hospitals.” Many people in Pakistan have had their lives changed because of the actions Indus has taken to support them. “Without Indus Hospital, a very significant percentage, outright majority, of those folks would not have had access to quality health care.”
Despite this rapid expansion, Indus continues to be free of cost, sticking to its core belief: “Indus has a mission to provide quality health care free of cost without any discrimination to every individual in Pakistan.” Indus is prepared to continue offering high-quality health care, creating a university of Health Sciences to promote a new generation of empathetic doctors. Indus still has a lot of support, most clearly seen by the overflowing amount of donations from Pakistani citizens.
“From inception to date, still the majority of the funds Indus raises are small donations that come from inside of Pakistan” Siddiqui said. Despite many families in Pakistan having to be resourceful with their money, they have always made sure to donate to Indus, leading to 50% of all funds in Indus coming from citizens in Pakistan. According to Siddiqui, “The common man recognizes that if they give a little bit of money today that helps somebody else tomorrow; that tomorrow they may be in need and someone else’s donation will help.” With this amount of support around Indus, it has a long and promising legacy ahead of it. The Pakistani citizens have a great chance for a shared future with Indus.
– Uzair Khan