Dr. Shershad Syed

International Awards

Hamdan Award for Volunteers in Humanitarian Medical Services
2011-2012
Personal Details/Academic Background
 
Dr. Shershah Syed is a graduate of Dow Medical College, Karachi and a Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists, London. He was trained in Ireland and the United Kingdom and now works in Pakistan. He has a special interest in genital tract fistula and cancer in women.
 
Syed is a founding member of Amnesty International Pakistan and is involved in human rights activities in the country. He is a women’s rights activist and fights for the reproductive rights and empowerment of women in Pakistan. As Secretary General of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) for six years, he was able to guide, help and advice Government, Non Government Organizations (NGOs) and UN agencies regarding health issues in the country.
 
He also worked as President of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Pakistan (SOGP). Presently he is an elected member of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) from the province of Sindh.
 
Born into a Karachi Slum, Syed was strongly influenced by his school teacher father, a follower of Mahatma Gandhi in India. His father was a strong proponent of education for women and girls, so he supported his wife’s education. By the time Syed’s mother was about to qualify as a doctor, his oldest brother had started medical school.
 
His mother’s income enabled Syed and the rest of his seven siblings to attend medical school. All went overseas for further training and all returned home to work, and have married doctors. Now Syed has 36 doctors in his immediate family, including his paediatric wife, with whom he has a 5-year-old daughter.
 
As a young man, Syed wanted to be a journalist, but his father insisted that the primary qualification in the family was MBBS. Syed passed the exam for medical school, intending to do a master’s degree in journalism later. But he got interested in medicine, left Pakistan to develop a career in obstetrics and gynaecology in Kenya, Ireland and UK, before returning to practice in Pakistan. Yet, interest in journalism remains and alongside his medical career, Syed writes Urdu stories that reflect life in Pakistan’s poor communities and contributes regularly to the Daily Dawn newspaper about safe motherhood, women’s rights, and against nuclear proliferation.
 
Professional Milestones
 
After spending eight years in Ireland, Syed returned with plans to set up a fertility clinic but was so shattered by the sight of women dying unnecessarily in childbirth and getting obstetrical fistula-like morbidity that he decided to devote his career for these poor women. Vaginal fistula is a highly debilitating, distressing, and hidden result of complicated labour and stillbirth.
 
Syed obtained special training on the repair of vesicovaginal fistula (VVF) and recto-vaginal fistula (RVF) from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia under the expert eye of Dr. Hamelin and Katherine Hamelin. After his return from Ethiopia, he started a fistula center in Karachi with the name of Koohi Goth Women Hospital, where free services are provided to all fistula patients. He is an expert in repairing simple and complicated VVF & RVF cases and can perform procedures like urinary diversion and Mitroffnof operations. He is a master trainer in Pakistan for fistula surgery. Apart from fistula, he also has special interest in safe motherhood, training of midwives and provision of EmOC in rural setup, and infertility and Gynaecological Oncology. He has written more than 15 books on Midwifery training in Urdu, which are the first of its kind in Pakistan. Now these books are taught at all midwifery schools throughout the country.
 
Besides his professional activities he is a long distance runner, has good knowledge of history, current affairs and social sciences. He also writes short stories in Urdu. He has written nine collections of short stories. He has also written two books for children.
 
Social and Community Services
 
Syed is a founding member of Amnesty International Pakistan and is involved in human rights activities in the country. He offers free surgery to all genital fistula patients. Each year at Koohi Goth Women’s Hospital, he and his team, in their spare time, operate on more than 1000 patients with vaginal fistulae. In addition to Koohi Goth Women’s Hospital, Syed works at the Qatar Hospital in Oranji, a Karachi slum where some 3.5 million people live.
 
He is characteristically humble about his many contributions in clinical practice, training and education, and fundraising and campaigning for women’s rights, safe motherhood, and  the need for emergency obstetric care
 
Awards and Recognition
 
Syed has received many awards. He received a FIGO (Federation of Obstetrica Gynaecologica) Distinguished Community Obstetrician award in 2003 at Santiago, Chile. He received the Clinton Global Initiative ward for “Training of nursing & midwifery tutors across Pakistan” to address the issue of maternal deaths in Pakistan.
 
Dr. Shershah Syed deserves the Hamdan Award for Volunteers in Humanitarian Medical Services in recognition of his social services in Pakistan and his contributions to the voluntary work in the field of Vaginal Fistulae surgery.
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