WALKING BACK IN HISTORY
Interview with Prof. Dr. Akhtar Khan
Dr. Saira Afzal, Dr. Saira Tariq, Dr. M. Munir, Junaid Tariq, A. Haseeb, Sidra Chishti, Shahbano Salman
Professor Dr. M. Akhtar Khan is the most senior KEMCOLIAN, renowned for his honesty and dedication towards the field of Medicine and KEMU. He was the principal of KEMC from 1973 to 1979. He also remained chairman of board of studies, Punjab University. He was vice president of PMDC from 1976 to 1979. He is 95 years old and is witness to the ups and downs of medical profession in our country. Despite his old age, he is still in active practice with enthusiasm to provide hope and cure to patients. In addition to his services to KEMC (now KEMU), he also played key role in the establishment of Shalimar hospital, Lahore. He also has developed Gujranwala welfare clinic founded by his brother. There, along with routine checkup, free camps for diabetic and psychiatric care are held.
Q1. When were you born? Tell us about your early life?
Ans. I was born on April 15, 1919 in Gujranwala, did my Matriculation from Gujranwala in 1935 from M. A. Islamia High School and completed my FSC from FC College in Neela Gumbad in 1937. I graduated from KEMC LAHORE in 1943. "I was born and bred in NeelaGumbad."
I passed MRCP in 1949.
Q2. Tell us about your journey to the post of principal of KEMC.
Ans.The journey starts from my Physiology department of KEMC where I first served after my graduation! I was appointed Assistant professor after Post graduation at FJMC and then became professor of medicine (1949-54). Then i served on the same post in NISHTAR medical college Multan (1954-59). After 1959 i served as chief physician at Mayo hospital Lahore and professor at KEMC. I became principal of KEMC in 1973. I was retired in 1979.
Q3. What are your achievements regarding the development of the academic structure of the college.
Ans. In my Tenure, medical and surgical units were increased in number. For Ophthalmology and ENT, an additional professorial chairwas created. A separate unit for neurology was accommodated in Madden Gopal wing. Professor chairs for Departments of psychiatry, radiology and radiotherapy were also created.
Q4. Sir, during your tenure in KEMC was there any achievement that you would like to mention in particular?
Ans. Yes! I recall an event when an All Pakistan teacher Convention was presided over by Mr. Bhutto. This was a memorable time. In 1976 KEMC hosted the three days conference. Main focus was on the modernization of educational and examination system. In 1974, a workshop was held under WHO in which facilitators from Iran laid foundation for trained local manpower with me as the leader. Later the staff of KEMC established a Medical Education Centre. This Centre arranged workshops for training of medical teachers. It grew to provincial Medical Education Centre later and included other medical colleges too.
I suggest the teachers of medical institutions should be trained by professionals; people who have themselves been trained for this job.
I put my all efforts and Annual College Convocation was held after 7 years in my tenure.
Q5. Sir, please,share with us your memories with Colonel Elahi bakhsh.
Ans. Oh yes! He was a great man. He was professor of pharmacology during my undergraduate study. Later he also took part in the 2nd world war and got promoted to Professor of medicine in KEMC. I worked as co examiner with him. He rendered great services to the nation; most important of them all was his service to our Quaid.
Q6. Sir these days we often see protests of our young doctors regarding their jobs. How do you see it?
Ans. Ah! This is a tragedy indeed. In our times every medical student was sure of his future career. There was a certainty in his mind and soul. Now we see that most of them don’t even know what they are going to do in future. This has developed a frustration in our young students which has led to what we see today as protests and strikes.
Q7. Sir what are your views on the role of female doctors in our society keeping in mind that most students in our medical institutions are now girls?
Ans. Female doctors are pillars to our society indeed. Their participation is vital for our profession especially education of mothers in our community. Having said that, today we all see the trend that almost 70 % of our medical students in every college are girls. And most of them don’t even join the profession after their MBBS. This means in spite of all the efforts we are still facing a deficit of medical practitioners. My opinion; there should be 50/50 quota for boys and girls in our colleges. So that in long term our society gets benefitted. Girls should be encouraged to come back to professional life after settling their family life. Be it, only a part time work. But it’s necessary to uplift the issue. This COMEBACK TO PROFESSION will be highly beneficial to the society.
Q8. Sir in your eyes which field of medicine is the most important?
Ans. (Laughter) I guess my answer will startle you. Most of our fellows think surgery and medicine or anatomy or physiology is the subject that should be given most consideration. In my opinion certain subjects considered to be of minor importance like community medicine are in fact more vital to our society than what they seem to be. In a nut shell every doctor medical or surgical specialist in the end becomes a community doctor. And we realize the importance of community medicine at the age of 70). (Laughter)
Q9.What is your opinion about the policy of Health department to eradicate quackery?
Ans. It is indeed unfortunate but our main problem is that the quacks are deep rooted in our society. To get rid of them is practically impossible. Even if we do it, our own people will suffer as medical facilities are not enough for them. Let me give you an example of Poland, where instead of eradicating, they actually trained the quacks! It made them valuable for society. We should do the same. As it is practical and will be efficient.
Q10. In the end what message would you like to convey to our young medical students?
Ans. My message to my young students is very simple. They should use scientific minds. Whatever knowledge they get they should apply it practically.
Thank you sir for giving us your precious time.
Ans. You are welcome. Its very nice to see you. It reminds me of my old days.