The 1998 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service
CITATION for Syed Adibul Hasan Rizvi
Ramon Magsaysay Award Presentation Ceremonies
31 August 1998, Manila, Philippines
In Sindh Province, Pakistan, poor people suffer disproportionately from kidney and urinary system diseases. Stones are a common scourge, and every year three thousand men, women, and children face end-stage renal (kidney) failure. For these people, early death is certain without dialysis or an organ transplant. Yet specialized treatments like these are rare and generally exorbitant in Pakistan; the cost of dialysis alone is four times the average annual per capita income. As a government doctor, Syed Adibul Hasan Rizvi believes it is wrong for such life-saving measures to be so hopelessly out of reach. At his state-of-the-art institute in Karachi, he provides them free of charge.
Indian-born Rizvi studied medicine at Dow Medical College in Karachi and for nine years honed his surgical skills in Great Britain, specializing in urology. Spurning the temptation to remain abroad, in 1971 he returned home to establish his specialty at Civil Hospital in Karachi. This public hospital possessed no instruments for treating renal patients at the time, not even an operating table. Allotted an eight-bed unit in the Burns Ward, Rizvi set to work.
Beginning with urology surgery, Rizvi expanded his clinic's services year by year, patiently adding dialysis treatment, ultrasound testing, and other high-tech facilities. In 1985, he performed Civil Hospital's first kidney transplant operations. Constantly outstripping the meager funds available, Rizvi motivated private donors to supplement government allocations. His clinic blossomed into a separate department, and in 1992, became an autonomous institute within Civil Hospital: the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation, or SIUT.
Rizvi's institute today is an oasis of cleanliness, efficiency, and excellence. With the latest equipment and a dedicated staff of more than four hundred doctors, nurses, and technicians, it provides services once unheard of in a public hospital in Pakistan to over one hundred thousand patients a year--for everything from kidney stones to end-stage renal failure. In 1997, the institute administered thirty five thousand dialysis sessions; ninety-seven individuals received new kidneys. The cost of all this runs to more than four million dollars a year. But Rizvi believes that everyone, rich or poor, has a right to good health care. At his institute patients pay nothing.
At SIUT today, Dr. Rizvi and his staff train young doctors in urology and engage in research shared with hospitals, medical schools, and research centers throughout the world. The institute is a model for others in Pakistan and beyond. And soon, on a site donated by the government of Sindh, a new five-story SIUT kidney center will house one of the most modern medical centers in South Asia. Seventy percent of the institute's expenses are now met through donations. Contributors include Pakistani philanthropists and generous companies like the Dewan Group. But prominent among them are hundreds of grateful patients and many thousands of Pakistani Muslims who dedicate a part of their annual zakat alms to support SIUT.
Bespectacled and with a shock of white hair, 58-year-old Rizvi is "the conscience of Karachi," says an admirer. In a city torn by ethnic strife, his institute is a haven of tolerance. When talking about SIUT's work and needs, Rizvi draws attention not to himself but to his staff and beloved patients, the vast majority of whom represent the rural folk of Sindh. Reflecting on the kidney transplant that saved his life, one of them says, "One can't imagine what a blessing this place is for a country like ours."
In electing Syed Adibul Hasan Rizvi to receive the 1998 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service, the board of trustees recognizes his transcending the limits of a public service hospital to make kidney dialysis, renal transplants, and other life-saving medical services available free to thousands of Pakistani citizens.
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