The Doctor’s Chair

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Dr. Prof Zareen FasihHEALTH speaks to Dr. Prof Zareen Fasih, Consultant A, Neonatologist and Pediatrician at GMC Hospitals about the latest screenings and why it is so important for a mother and baby’s wellbeing.

DOCTOR’S BACKGROUND:


Dr. Professor Zareen Fasih was also the President of The Pakistan Pediatric Association from 2004 to 2006 and The Chairperson of the Neonatology Group PPA from 2012 to 2014. She is presently working as the National Coordinator for Lysosomal Storage Disorders in Children and as the National Adviser to WHO and UNICEF on the ‘Polio Eradication Program’ in Pakistan. And in order to decrease neonatal mortality in Pakistan, the Neonatal committee is working in collaboration with WHO, UNICEF and Save the World Children and with the Bill Gates Foundation on interventional strategies to be implemented at a grass roots level.

Q. What is your most memorable patient/doctor story?

A. “While on a busy night duty in the Pediatric ICU during my second year of Residency Training, a 14-year-old boy was admitted. He was comatose and was having seizures and signs of raised intra-cranial pressure. His blood pressure was low and he was in shock. Along with my intern, who was new to the Pediatricians rotation, I managed the case. I was awake the entire night managing the child’s hypotension and fits. The C.S.F analysis showed a diagnosis of Encephalitis. I was running around between lab and ward managing him with Mannitol, Steroids and IV fluids. I counselled the parents about the severity of his disease. By morning, he slowly regained consciousness, his fits were under control and his blood pressure was within normal range. When I left the ward at 2pm the next afternoon I told the parents that now their child was out of danger but was still in need of I.C.U care . Totally exhausted and fatigued, I fell on my bed and slept the whole evening and woke up with the deep sense of satisfaction that came with saving a life. The next day after the morning round when I entered the I.C.U I saw him lying in his bed looking around . I went straight to him, held his hand and said ‘Ahmad how are you?’ He looked at me with surprise and asked ‘who are you?’ This incident reminded me that my duty to the patient is to ensure their wellbeing without the expectation of recognition or a reward greater than the satisfaction that comes with the fulfillment of the duty.”

Q. If there was just one thing you could change about your field, what would that be and why?

A. “Working as a Neonatologist, I have seen innumerable cases of birth asphyxia where babies end up with cerebral palsy, fits, mental retardation and lifelong physical disability. As this is one of the important causes of neonatal morbidity and mortality, one thing which can help to decrease birth asphyxia is to teach neonatal resuscitation to as many birth attendants, doctors , nurses, Midwifes, traditional birth attendants and everybody who deals with the delivery of babies as much as possible. To date neonatal mortality, which contributes to 40 percent of less than age 5 childhood mortality is very high; for every 1000 children born 46 die before they reach their fifth birthday. And every year 41 out of 1000 babies born die within the first 4 weeks of their life. Three quarters of all newborn deaths occur in the first week of life. In developing countries half of the mothers and babies do not receive skilled care during and after birth. Up to two-thirds of newborn deaths can be prevented if known and effective health measures are provided at birth and during the first week of life. I strongly feel that the core principle underlying Neonatal Health is access of mother and child to quality health care. Also empowering mothers in order to decrease the gap between the post natal care and healthy home practices is paramount.”

Q. What can we look forward to in the near future with regards to your field?

A. “Things coming up in near future regarding Neonatal Medicine is Antenatal interventions with early Antenatal diagnoses of diseases such as P.U.J obstruction, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, congenital heart diseases.

Q. If you were not in this profession, what would you be and why?

A. “If I was not a doctor and Neonatologist, I would have been an artist. The reason is because as a child, I was deeply interested in drawing and painting in water and oil mediums. My father used to bring the canvas, brushes and paints for me and I would draw and paint in my spare time. I won many prizes at school, on the national and international level, but as I grew older and became busy with medical studies, I could not find time to paint. After retirement I plan to restart my passion of painting.”

Q. What is your advice for the younger generation wanting to enter your field?

A. “The field of medicine requires dedication, commitment and passion. Most of all, the field of medicine requires hard work and comes with many long hours and tough days. Anybody hoping to be part of this noble profession must be willing to take on this challenge and must be steadfast in the knowledge that one day, their hard work will pay off- both to them and to the lives they will ultimately save, touch and change.”

Q. Who/what is your inspiration and why?

A. “My inspiration has always been my mother who taught me how to work hard with honesty and never give up.”

Q. What can we look forward to in the near future with regards to your field?

A. “Things coming up in near future regarding Neonatal Medicine is Antenatal interventions with early Antenatal diagnoses of diseases such as P.U.J obstruction, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, and congenital heart diseases.

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