Charity’s valuable support for surgery

Morpeth Rotary Club

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 22 May, 2019, 14:43
Dr Amjad Gulzar Shaikh and Morpeth Rotary President Bob Kendall.

Member Arif Shahab has just retired from working worldwide for a company that employs more than 300,000 people. He has used some of his time to catch up with an old school friend who is doing great things with international charity, The 100 Limbs Project.

He arranged for his friend Dr Amjad Gulzar Shaikh, who is a consultant orthopaedic surgeon in London, to talk about the charity. Arif and Amjad had also visited Galashiels Rotary Club and invited two friends from there who had been to Pakistan to see the project in action.

The charity is based on the life-changing effect that simple orthopaedic operations can have on poor people in Pakistan with limb problems.

It was started in 2005 following an earthquake that resulted in 300,000 dead and 700,000 casualties. People mostly had orthopaedic injuries with long bone fractures. The project was so successful that its systems were adopted by the international community, including the UK.

It carried out further work when there was severe flooding in Pakistan. The work expanded to include education to help people prepare for natural disasters.

An important approach was to find redundant resources in the UK and get them to where they were needed. An organisation was getting rid of unwanted furniture by paying £1,000 a ton to have them put in landfill when many schools had no furniture and pupils sat on the floor. Several container loads were sent out.

The charity specialises in working with poor children with serious limb problems who cannot afford to stay in hospital or pay for corrective surgery. They can’t get to school or work and are condemned to sit at home. It takes about 45 minutes to carry out surgery on a child with club feet or who has had an accident or amputation.

All of the work is carried out at Chiniot, a small town in Pakistan where Amjad’s father was born and built a hospital.

The cost of a modern prosthetic limb in the West is £10,000 to £15,000. The charity can import small components, then have other parts made locally at a total cost of £600, using old machines from the UK. It provides 100 free limbs.

The visitors from Galashiels included a project director from NHS Scotland. He had found 11 mobile screening units that were due to be scrapped or sold off. In co-operation with Karachi Rotary Club, they were sent to Pakistan and used to identify who could best be helped when Dr Amjad made his annual visit.

When in Pakistan, Amjad and other surgeons operate daily from 6am to 11pm. Amjad is helped by his wife Shibana, who is an anaesthetist.

Arif thanked the speaker for visiting from London and for his work, and encouraged the audience to recognise what a benefit it was for Britain to have the NHS.