Well before the Sustainable Development Goals were adopted by all UN members in 2015, The Martin Dow Group were already engaged in projects focused on Reduction in Poverty, Healthcare for the under-privileged and Quality Education. Martin Dow has been Creating Distinction for Life by shaping and leading the future of Healthcare, utilizing its boundless energies of talent, technical excellence, and passion, to enrich the lives of people around the world.
We believe that no success in material terms is worthwhile unless it serves the interest of the Society we serve, which is why we are constantly engaged in initiatives focused on improving Health, Education and the Environment.
At Martin Dow Group, our philanthropic activities were established by our Founding Chairman, Mohammad Jawed Akhai, which have become an intrinsic part of the Company’s DNA, and our Corporate Social Responsibility model emanates from the core values of living with and giving back to the community.
We wish to share the Case Study of our relationship with the people of Baba & Bhit Islands, where we have played an essential role in building a positive connection with its community since 2007.
At the edge of the sprawling metropolis of Karachi lies 2 islands with a population of over 100,000, Baba and Bhit, made primarily off the fishermen communities who has been overlooked and left behind by the sprawling port city of Karachi. These communities live drastically under the poverty line, making less than 2 dollars a day to support their family of 4- 5 persons. Since decades the inhabitants of the Islands had to travel by boat and through public transport for medical treatment, which were always out of their financial reach.
The fear of high costs of even minor medical treatments and the cost of the journey to the mainland and in the city, had a huge detrimental effect on this community. The people of these islands, refrained from even trying to seek medical help. Instead, they continuously relied on home remedies and self-medication, even from illness that were painful, and in several cases the need for childbearing assistance and post-natal care was nonexistent, leading to loss of human life on the Islands.
Illnesses and deaths, led to an increase in poverty for the bread earners families and it was in 2007 when the Clinic was established on Baba Island. This was a 12-bed medical centre with reasonable in-house facilities to provide the community with free of cost services and medicines.
Martin Dow Group took this clinic to a new level by partnering with The Indus Health Network, the biggest names in philanthropic healthcare in Pakistan, to upgrade the Centre in facilities and services making us the gold standard in healthcare for the islanders. The newly equipped Martin Dow – Indus Hospital and Health Network Community Heath Centre provides free of cost healthcare services and dispenses free medication from its pharmacy to the needy.
Martin Dow believes in Creating Distinction for Life in every facet of its dealings. We believe in inclusivity and diversity. Women make up for more than 2/3s of the patient inflow at the Centre, making natal care essential in the area. The complexities of taboo in discussing female health issues had severely impacted the agility in seeking help. This propelled us to engage female doctors and healthcare workers to bring ease and drive awareness amongst the islanders of female issues and hygienic living. Women who had relied heavily on home remedies and lacked even basic awareness about female hygiene, pre and post natal care, were made aware of the ways to clean living and received excellent medical care, this helped in increase the flow of females coming to the Centre ten-fold.
The Martin Dow Community Health facility is a level 1 facility with four public health vertical programs running simultaneously with family medicine clinics conducted by trained physicians. The facility has a procedure/observation room for minor clinic-based procedures i.e., IMs, IVs, hydration, ultrasound, nebulization etc. The Community Health Center has a Pharmacy for dispensing general medicines and a Lab collection point, The OPD at the Community Health Centre has had an increase in patient inflow from under 500 patients to now having served over 25,000 patients in the past year. Essentially the Community Centre has enabled over half the population of Baba and Bhit access to healthcare on the islands.
The nursing staff is trained and equipped with first responder techniques. The level 1 facility can manage the healthcare needs of a minimum of 10,000 catchment population. PHC center is the only primary care facility at Baba Island providing primary care and maternal and child health services free of cost. Currently, the healthcare is managing services tailored to the community's requirements and has Antenatal Care Program, Hepatitis Control Program, Mental Health and Community Engagement Center Programs running vertically with the family medicine services. We have effectively treated thousands of patients for numerous afflictions including:
Endocrine, Nutritional and Metabolic Diseases
Diseases of the Respiratory System
Abnormal Clinical Presentations
Diseases of the Circulatory System
Diseases of the Musculoskeletal System and Connective Tissue
Diseases of the Digestive System
Mental and Behavioral Disorders
The Centre continuously runs many community engagement sessions on various health awareness and community mobilization, The success of the Martin Dow – Indus Hospital and Health Network Community Heath Centre can be seen in the testimonials of the residents of Baba & Bhit Islands.
I have been an active participant in the community engagement sessions on various health awareness and community mobilization sessions. Recently after a session, I was very hesitant on discussing my matter, however, because of the trust and relationship building with the CEC health worker, I asked to talk to him in complete privacy. I asked our health worker to not mention this to anyone as he is sharing it in confidentiality. The health worker assured me that this will stay between them only, as to which then I proceeded to discuss my matter. I had been developing itchiness in my private areas and it had been becoming slightly uncomfortable for me to sit for too long, the health worker asked me why I had not the doctor at MDIH as to which I replied that I was embarrassed and didn’t want to show the doctor where the skin rash is happening.
The health worker counselled me and explained gently as to how I can take a picture of those areas from my phone's camera and show them to the doctor directly without showing the area physically. The health worker also explained to me that it is completely okay to have any type of rash anywhere on the body and that I must not be embarrassed as it is natural. He said I should visit the doctor at MDIH as soon as possible and that I can trust the doctor as they keep complete confidentiality and maintain privacy. I went the very next day and visited the doctor who gave me topical skin medicine and reassured me that it is nothing to be worried about and that the rash will go away in a few days. However, I should come for a follow-up just to be completely cleared and the doctor made it clear that I have to complete my medication course as it will aggravate if I don’t.
I thank the CEC health worker and MDIH for starting healthcare services at Baba Island, as then he would have to spend money on travelling to a hospital in the city. I am so elated that the health worker had counselled me into going to visit the doctor at MDIH.
Nouman, resident of Baba Island
My name is Yasir and I am a resident of Baba Island. I have had diabetes and high blood pressure for more than a decade. I had been visiting various hospitals and doctors for my diabetes but still, it remained uncontrolled due to which I had been suffering from other systemic complications. A couple of months back, I developed a wound on his hand for which I visited a private hospital. They charged a hefty fee and prescribed me treatment for two months, but the wound got worse. Ultimately, I have advised amputation. I was extremely stressed and discussed it with my friend who advised me to visit MDIH. My friend was an active participant in the health awareness sessions conducted by the CEC health workers. Half-heartedly, I went to visit the doctor there, keeping in mind that they will also decide the same fate for me as the private doctors did.
The doctor at MDIH conducted a thorough examination and reassured me that there was no need for amputation and my wound will be cured with proper wound care and good diabetes control. He told me some easy ways to take care of my wound, and prescribed medications for diabetes and blood pressure.
I am extremely grateful that MDIH has such competent doctors and staff who advice well and who don’t exploit people.
Yasir, fisherman and resident of Baba Island
I started living on Baba Island after getting married to a fisherman. It’s been 12 years of my marriage and I have 5 children. My husband earns PKR 100-300 per day through fishing. With meagre earnings, we are unable to save money instead, need to take loans often from friends and relatives.
I have learned over the years that being extremely poor is a curse – it is the painful truth.
My husband is the sole breadwinner, and we can hardly afford health expenses if someone in the family gets ill. Recently my son suffered from acute stomach- ache, so I took my son to the primary care facility in Baba Island. I felt grateful as the doctor did a thorough examination and ordered investigations and I didn’t have to pay a single rupee at any step of the way. Most of the medications prescribed were available at the centre free of cost.
I acknowledged the presence of the clinic and appreciated the efforts of the staff and doctors working here, we are extremely happy with the facilities as it has come to us as a blessing.
Aneesa, a resident of Baba Island
Martin Dow Group is focused on enabling the underprivileged to get access to healthcare not only at the diagnostic level by providing time with medical professionals but also providing pharmaceutical products free of cost. As part of the community, it is our responsibility to raise the standard of life and enrich the lives of as many as possible. We continue to invest in communities for their mental as well as physical wellbeing, improving their quality of life today and for the next generation, so that together we may rise for a better world.