Dr Seemin Jamali recognised as global hero in times of pandemic
Dr Seemin Jamali is executive director of Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, the largest hospital in Karachi.–File photo
Dr Seemin Jamali, executive director at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, the largest hospital in Karachi, has been recognised as a global hero by the World Health Organization (WHO) for putting up a brave during pandemic.
A report published by the American publication NPR says, To say the last year has been tough for Dr. Seemin Jamali, the executive director of Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, would be a serious understatement. First, her work: The hospital she runs is one of the largest in Pakistan, overseeing projects and teams in the hospital and working in the emergency room. Attacks on doctors and nurses occur regularly — usually instigated by family members or acquaintances frustrated by a patient's diagnosis or death. It happened before the pandemic, and now it's happening as a result of the pandemic.
"That is what I saw in the ward – how they [family members] tried to drag the dead body out of the ward. They broke the ward, they beat people with sticks and bashed all the glass. And this is what happens in normal times also." She attributes it to the feeling among relatives of an injured or deceased person: "They need to put the blame on somebody."
As frustration and anger increased while COVID raged, so did the violence. One of the biggest issues, she says, is how the hospital should handle the dead from COVID while still respecting different communities' rituals. Some relatives of patients who had died became angry at not getting the body back by a certain time. Jamali says operating procedures have changed over how they handle the bodies, so things have improved.
Every culture and religion has its own way of carrying out burials or death rituals, she explains, so certain communities were agitated by not being able to enter the ward before the person died or collect their bodies in a timely fashion afterward.
Add in her personal life: At one point last year, Dr. Seemin Jamali and her husband, an orthopaedic surgeon, were both sick in different wards of the hospital: He had COVID, she had colon cancer. She also lost some family members and colleagues to COVID.
The hardships in both her personal and work life have made Jamali all the more determined to get up every day and do her job, even though she is at an extra high risk if infected because of her cancer treatments; although she does spend less time in the emergency room since her illness. "I didn't want to stay home. I didn't want to live a life that was useless. I wanted to make my life worthwhile. There are so many people who benefit from my being here so it's worth it."
She is very thankful for the help she received along the way. Jamali's sisters came from the U.S. to help and she is so grateful to them. "The last three months of chemotherapy were really bad. And I pushed myself to go to work. They left their work, their family, their kids and came here to help me. There are no words to repay them for anything for the rest of my life."