LONDON – The British Muslim Doctors Association, a non-profit volunteer organization that brings doctors, dentists, pharmacists and others in the medical profession together, held their annual dinner at the Copthorne Tara hotel in London on Saturday, May 13.
With introductions by Dr Hina Shahid, Chair, and Dr Nadia Khalid, Vice-Chair, the opening keynote was made by Professor David Heymann, CBE.
“I realize that global health works because there is such great participation by many, including the Muslim Doctors Association,” he said.
“We need to address inequalities in everything that we do. In our work, in our play, wherever we are, we need to remember that we are the fortunate, and there are many who are not so fortunate. And we need to help them raise their level, to the same level as ours, so they can have the dignity and respect, that we have. We must respect all, we must raise them our of poverty.”
Speaking on Innovation in Global Health Education, Shafi Ahmed, a surgeon at Barts Health NHS Trust said, “Our minds and our brains cope with linear thoughts. Currently, the world is going through many changes, it’s exponential, it’s so rapid that none of us can actually imagine what wil happen in a few years. That’s the type of thing we want to embrace.”
“For me, this is the most exciting time to ever be a doctor in human history. There’s so much going on that if we don’t embrace it now, we have lost the whole opportunity of the future. We have to work out how we empower ourselves, and our patients.”
Thumbay Moideen, an entrepreneur whose Timber business captured the attention of a Sheikh from the United Arab Emirates, shared the story leading to the establishment of the Gulf medical University.
“(I was) a very adventurous chap, when I was young. I told the Sheikh, what’ll I do, I feel this is a God sent opportunity. I’ll bring in consultants from India. I’ll do research on the possibility to setting up a private medical school in the UAE, then I’ll get back to you,” Moideen said.
Dr Siyani Shaffi, Kitrinos Healthcare, shared an insight to working in the charitable sector, with a focus on refugees.
“Charity is more than the number of blankets you give our, the number of medicines you give out. It’s the kind words, its the dealing with unkindness that is thrown your way, which I have had a lot. And I got really really close at times, to just say, I don’t need to do this any more,” Dr Shaffi said.
“I can just come back and locum and be a GP. My husband and I were on our way to Australia, or so we thought, when all this kicked off (the Syrian refugee crisis). My initial volunteer-ship was just for ten days. I didn’t realize that it was going to take me into a lifetime – inshallah – occupation.”
Speaking on the subject of how we help when a medical crisis takes place, Dr Naveed Iqbal, launched the Humanitarian Division of the Muslim Doctors Association saying,
“Despite the trauma that you see (in refugee camps) it is rewarding, because they always ask you, are you going to come back and see us again? Please don’t forget us. You know we asked them one, what can we do for you? And they said, keep asking us this question, that’s enough for us, it means you haven’t forgotten us.”
“All religions, all cultures are welcome (to join us on our humanitarian trips). In my teams you’ve got a Jewish nurse, you’ve got a Catholic doctor, you’ve got all sorts of people there.”
Dr Hina Shaid, Chair, added, “We are witnessing one of the worst humanitarian disasters in human history. And it is so inspiring to see skilled people using their abilities, in compassionate ways, under challenging circumstances. It is encouraging to see volunteers give up some of their free time to give back to the community.”
Dr Nadia Khalid, Vice-Chair of the MDA closed the evening saying, “Whether you are a health professional or not, there is something that everyone can do.”
Indeed the spirit of the MDA reflects the best of Muslim values. Whether it is leadership provided by women, Dr Hina (Chair) and Dr Nadia (Vice-Chair), or working with people irrespective of faith, such as Jewish and Christian medical professionals.
The wider holistic message is simple, we as humanity are one. And while many of us have differing approaches to life and faith, it does not mean that we cannot work together to add value to all of our lives.