A Talk with Dr. Saira Afzal (FCPS, MPhil) over her new Book.
HOD KEMU Community Medicine 2012
By Moeed Ahmed & Taroob Latef
I have had my schooling from the Convent. My teachers were nuns and they were extremely dedicated, pushing us forward in both curricular and extra-curricular activities. Hardly a day would go by when we wouldn’t have any activity. I did my FSc from Kinnaird and Mbbs from King Edward, Class of 2001.
My first research was published in 2001 in my final year in Impact Factor Journal.
CONCEPTS IN COMMUNITY MEDICINE
When did it first occur to you to write a book?
About four years ago, it occurred to me that my students are suffering in academics because of lack of a good book that meets our community requirements. Most of them study from Park, in which the author has focused solely on Indian community life and is not applicable on our community. Biostatistics and research methodology chapters are totally deficient. This is why students have to juggle together four or five books which get too much for students during Prof.
Also, numerous photo copies of notes from different colleges have a million mistakes e.g the Sampling types mentioned are not applicable on any standard level.
Ayaz Ansari is a very diverse book but some of our curriculum points have not even touched upon.
How is your book THE book for Community not just from Kemcolians but for students from all medical colleges?
I have stressed a lot on prevention of diseases because in today’s world it is extremely important. Especially vaccination, I don’t say that students should know all the names but atleast they should know which ones are available in Pakistan, what are their doses, when is a booster given, what is the type of immunity etc.
Also I have added numerous tables in my books for various chapters so that once theory has been read, students find it easy to revise from them.
The colored OSPE pages at the end of the book are the secret to acing your Prof. They have all the material that has been examiners’ favorite for the past many years.
When did you start writing the book?
I started it in 2010. The publisher I found first disappeared with my book. I had no option but to leave it on a stand still. Finally I found a good publisher. And now my book is out. I have received a great feedback especially because everything has been extremely simplified in it, like ABC.
My book will help students immensely in research. I want my students to present research on international forums and any platform available to us.
In 2012 there was a research presentation in California where one of my students from Final Year went to present the research. And similarly, in the National Conference held in Islamabad this year a student from Fourth Year, Junaid Tariq, went to give the presentation. It helps by having interaction with other researchers and secondly we find out where exactly we stand.
Topics students will find extremely relevant and simplified in my book:
-Health disease -Intro to public health in Pak -Communicable Diseases -Reproduction. and child health -Food and nutrition -Communication -Research ethics -Research methodology -Ospe -Historical aspects in public health (first time added in any book)
Why did you pursue Community Medicine?
I like Community Medicine a lot.
In fourth Year I used to tell my friends, one day I’ll be HOD here.
When I came here, I knew that there’s alot to be done in community deptartment. We have to improve health of our mothers and children, but I didn’t have a road map to follow. I began training here with the purpose to devise a road map that I could implement to bring about development. While I was rotating in medicine I observed that infectious diseases contributed to most of our patient diseases. Be it tb, hepatitis or so many more. And sadly, all these diseases are preventable!
We can save pounds by spending one penny.
To decrease patient load we need to work on our prevention schemes rather than building one hospital on top of another. Thats not the solution. Prevention is the solution.
Whenever my student stands next to a student form another institute, I want to see a difference; in grooming, discipline, academics and especially research.
How was your experience at KE as a student?
I had a memorable time here. I got numerous positions in races and athletics. I was Lady Sports Secretary, Editor Kemcol and President KEDS in my final year.
I was best athlete, best sprinter and an active debater and the five trophies placed in VC Office were brought by me.
How has your experience been as HOD since 2012?
I would never prefer HOD to academics. Of all my responsibilities, I like handling academics best. My students should be satisfied and be able to compete with students from other medical universities on any forum. That’s my biggest priority.
My husband Dr. Mustahsin Rashid is a plastic surgeon in mayo. His positivity and strong analysis have helped me tremendously in my field. From my house job to MPhil I have obtained all my degrees after my marriage. He is my beacon of light in darkness. I have two sons, 12 and 9 years of age.
But there’s a lot of work that falls under my supervision, forming and managing committees, determining repairs, overlooking all the researches being done under my department and so many other projects, vaccination of students, youth festival every year etc and I try my best that with all this studies should not suffer.
How hard has it been? Being so young and a woman what has it been like?
It is very difficult. We have shortage of staff, human and financial resources.
As a woman I have never faced any resistance, because I have never brought gender in my work. Everyone comes on merit. We all strive for the best. Like all working women I too have double responsibilities, I have to take care of my home and my work too. But Alhamdullilah I have a very comfortable family life perhaps that is why I am so energetic in my professional field.
I want Community Meidcine to flourish. Prevention should have further subunits, with proper staff. Child health, infectious diseases all should be handled separately etc.
Community medicine in four rooms still has a long way to go.
What are your hobbies?
I love reading, preferably literature and medical journals, and sport. I enjoy playing squash with my sons.
How much do you enjoy the Sports Week Commentary?
I have been enjoying it a lot. I do it for President Sports Dr. Azhar Hameed. My first priority has always been teaching and it has happened so many times that I have to miss out onmy research smeinars and committees because of it but when my teachers ask me to do something, I can’t refuse.
Message for your readers?
If you want to do something for the society and you have no financial burden, then pursue community as our field.
Life has three stages: Learn, earn and return.
Some people jump from learn to return because they don’t have the need to earn and some leave their earning upto their faith and they are never left behind. When you think that you have to do something for humanity and you do it with sincerity then you will always be successful.