Sobia Haseeb*, 21, suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic disease that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in her joints. Sobia needs a range of expensive medicines to manage her condition and meeting the cost of her treatment is a persistent challenge.
“Had it not been for the assistance I receive from Falah, I would never have been able to afford treatment at Aga Khan University Hospital,” she says.
Sobia is not alone. She is one of more than a thousand deserving patients who have benefited from the efforts of Falah**, a charity run by students from the Aga Khan University’s Medical College and School of Nursing and Midwifery. Founded in 1993, Falah, which is a registered non-government organisation based at the University, raises funds from donors and philanthropists to provide needy patients with access to essential tests and medications at AKUH.
“Many patients who seek our help hail from far-off areas of Sindh and have no means of pursuing treatment for congenital heart defects, chronic illnesses, and other diseases. More often than not, the journey to AKU alone costs more than they can afford,” says Daniyal Nadeem, an MBBS student from the class of 2018 and president of Falah.
The organisation also runs a blood bank which helps patients who cannot find donors in emergencies. Every member of Falah’s team is a volunteer who balances their responsibilities at the charity with their studies.
In August 2017, Falah’s team came together to organise an annual carnival that brought together students, staff and faculty for a good cause. The fundraising drive saw over 500 attendees make cash contributions and blood donations to support Falah’s vision of enabling access to high quality healthcare.
“We were delighted by the response to this year’s event. This is one of many events we plan on holding this year so that we can continue to support patients in their time of need,” Daniyal added.
* The patient’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.
** Between July 2016 and July 2017, Falah has helped more than a thousand patients pay for medication worth at least PKR 1,000 per patient.