A passion to serve – The story of Dr. Bari and The Indus Hospital

“Dreams are not what you see while sleeping, dreams are what keep you up at night,” says Dr. Abdul Bari Khan, Founder, and CEO of The Indus Hospital – a Pakistani institution which provides quality healthcare free of cost. Founded in 2007 as a 150-bed hospital in Korangi, the Indus Hospital has evolved into a comprehensive health care network with hospitals and clinics spread across Pakistan.

Watch this video to hear Dr. Bari talk about the beginnings of medical activism in Pakistan (01:08), the journey of Indus Hospital (03:33), the generosity of its patrons (06:47), Pakistan’s healthcare challenges (07:19) and what keeps him going (08:32).

“From the very first day, we made a deliberate effort to ensure that it [Indus Hospital] is not linked to a personality.”

Contrary to the common practice of many philanthropic organizations in Pakistan, Indus Hospital does not keep a personality-driven identity which Dr. Bari deems as unsustainable.

“Indus Hospital exists as its own brand with its own governance structure.”

Dr. Bari reflects on the early years of his medical activism through his membership at the ‘Patients Welfare Association’ in 1980, that led to the formation of Pakistan’s first voluntary blood bank at Dow Medical College which he oversaw as the Project Director. Now operated by medical students, the bank supplies over 375 units of blood every day to consequentially curb the influence of professional donors who had previously cartelized the sector to manipulate patients.

Dr. Bari recalls how Karachi’s first bomb attack was crucial in helping him identify the need for an organization like the Indus Hospital. He adds that the miserable condition of Civil Hospital’s casualty ward coupled with the stories of financial hardship voiced by patients and families suffering from the 1987 Bohri Bazaar Attacks motivated him to pave the way for establishing a truly free of cost medical services provider in Pakistan.

In 2004, Dr. Bari regrouped with three of his friends from college to realize the dream they conceived in 1987. Thirty-two years later, the Indus Hospital – now part of the more extensive Indus Health Network – stands as a model of free healthcare, serving the underserved with indiscriminate and quality treatment.

“There should only be one model, ‘all or none,’ either you make a private hospital, or you keep it completely free,” asserts Dr. Bari while pointing out the shortcomings of ‘mixed’ financial models.

“Today, it has been 12 years, and not even a single patient has been refused based on inadequate finances.”

Dr. Bari attributes the sustenance of their ‘free of cost’ initiative to the vast spectrum of donors who persistently contribute with donations scaling from millions of dollars to equity in businesses to houses being donated by families in the line of Indus Hospital’s mission.

“The healthcare challenges of this country are so vast that no one sector can solve them on its own unless we get together and collaborate.”

On the road to expansion, Indus Hospital is scaling its presence by consolidating public-private partnerships and establishing Indus Health Network which has 12 hospitals of its own.

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