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Providing maternal healthcare to 200 women

Posted on 26/01/2017

Faisel Alam current fourth year student at the GKT School of Medical Education, recently completed a Master of Research (MRes) programme and is nominated for the Dr Abbas Khan Medal for his outstanding contribution to humanitarian work.

Faisel Alam in the middle

The Dr Abbas Khan Medal was established in 2015 to provide a lasting tribute to the extraordinary humanitarian contribution of alumnus Dr Abbas Khan. Dr Khan graduated in medicine from King’s in 2006 and went on to become an orthopaedic surgeon. He tragically passed away in 2013 after he was detained for undertaking humanitarian work in Syria. 

Faisel is nominated for the outstanding contribution to humanitarian efforts in the developing world, primarily through his role as a founding member of the student-led charity, Maternal Aid Association (Maa). The charity was founded in 2015 by King’s students with a vision to revolutionise maternal and fetal healthcare in resource-poor settings around the world, starting in Bangladesh.

Team at Maa

In August 2016, Faisel was elected as the Summer Project Lead where he helped to establish formal links with a number of UK and Bangladeshi stakeholders to ensure the sustainability and longevity of the humanitarian work for Maa.

He led a group of medical students from King’s to rural Bangladesh to observe the situation of maternal care across different state hospitals in a limited resource setting. The team also established crucial health camps and education workshops targeting pregnant women across different rural villages. 

Maa

The team were able to offer point-of-care access to over 200 women who would not normally have access to even the most basic healthcare.

We were overwhelmed initially on the first day due to the huge turnout, where it became difficult to triage and review all the patients, he said.

Despite this, our team worked incredibly hard and tirelessly to manage the demand and we delivered our very own health complex at the rural village Balaganj, providing free point-of-care access to basic clinical examinations and screening tests mainly for pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes to over 200 women. 

Faisel at Maa

We provided access to blood pressure readings, blood glucose testing, urine analysis, examination of the eyes using fundoscopy, and ultrasound examinations where indicated. We reviewed the women that showed signs of complications by our team of doctors and were able to refer on to further specialist care or prescribe medication.

We then delivered educational workshops on pregnancy, labour and delivery, and child development. These were reviewed beforehand by a member of the UK’s Royal College of Obstetrics & Gynaecology (RCOG) and then translated into the local dialect of the rural village population. 

Women at education workshop in Bangladesh

After the complex, we held our own seminar to students and faculty at our partner medical school in Bangladesh where we presented our findings and reflections of our project.

One month prior to the schedule trip, Bangladesh was the victim of the worst terrorist attack in its history where 29 people were executed. The UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office issued a travel warning to Bangladesh due to the risks and dangers and Bangladeshi officials discouraged foreigners from traveling to Bangladesh during this time.

The attack meant that despite over a year of planning and preparation, Maa’s summer trip was on the verge of being cancelled.

What became particularly difficult was realising that the families of the volunteers also became increasingly hesitant and anxious about letting their children take part on the project. It would have been a huge loss had we given up and abandoned our plans because of this very tragic incident.

Faisel worked tirelessly and courageously with the Maa team, stakeholders from the UK and Bangladesh, and helped to reformulate the itinerary of the trip to ensure the safety and security of the team. Faisel organised 24/7 police security, ensured visas were approved by the Bangladeshi High Commission and that flights and hotels were booked appropriately with due caution for the safety of all UK travellers.

This has been one of the most meaningful projects I’ve ever been involved with. It has been an incredibly tough journey and there were numerous challenges along the way. On reflection, none of this would have been possible without the dedication and commitment of the wider Maa team that I am indebted to.

Team Maa in Bangladesh

Faisel’s work ensured a successful summer trip and now Maa are focused on their first maternal health clinic in Bangladesh.

The clinic is part of our long-term vision where we plan to set-up a permanent health facility that provides high-quality access to antenatal, postnatal and general maternal healthcare in rural parts of Bangladesh where resources are limited. This will ensure the sustainability of our work. 

Maa team

Speaking of his nomination for the Dr Abbas Khan Medal:

I am incredibly humbled by the nomination for the Dr Abbas Khan award. Dr Khan dedicated his life to alleviate the suffering and pain of innocent civilian families afflicted by war. He was a humanitarian and his legacy is an inspiration. I hope that these awards offer encouragement to others to get involved with causes they care about.

There are still huge amounts of work to be done, but this is true testament to the fact that a team of committed and dedicated group of students were able to achieve something beyond what we anticipated despite the challenges.

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Faisel is one of four nominees for the 2016 Dr Abbas Khan Medal. The winner will be named at the Award Ceremony on 6 February 2017. MBBS staff, students and alumni are invited for what promises to be an inspiring night. More information and to RSVP visit the Dr Abbas Khan Medal page.

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