Doctor Qasim Bashir hails from a family of doctors and returned to Pakistan after completing his education and training from the United States.
Bashir returned to serve his country, the place that invested in his during his early education. After living in the United States for 15 years, he began serving at CMH Medical College Lahore as an Associate Professor of Clinical and Interventional Neurology, a position he holds these days.
He shared his experience of serving in the United States and his future ambitions in an exclusive interview with Pakistan Today.
“Stroke is not treated like an emergency in Pakistan, and most patients expire because of this,” Dr Qasim, who once served as Stroke Neurology and Neuroendovascular Surgery at Provena St. Joseph Medical Centre Medical Director, Joliet, Illinois, USA, told Pakistan Today.
Medication that can be used as a cure is not easily accessible in Pakistan, and where it is available, it costs too much. Qasim pointed out that the government needs to decrease the import duty on life saving drugs.
He further said that a 24/7 well-equipped centre is needed as a brain stroke can take place at any time and there is not a single centre in the whole country that is open for 24/7 to deal with this emergency condition.
After a person suffers a stroke their life can be saved in the next couple of hours, otherwise the patient could die.
“In the western literature of medicine, it is said that a patient of brain stroke must be treated on an emergency basis just like in the case of a heart attack. However, the situation is altogether different in Pakistan,” he said.
Dr Qasim comes from a family of doctors. His father, late Prof Bashir Ahmad, was one of the pioneers of neurosurgery in Pakistan. He founded the department of neurosurgery at Lahore General Hospital in 1964 and was the first professor of neurosurgery in Punjab.
“When I decided to came back, my colleagues in the United States taunted me and said that they would see be after two years because there was no way I would be able to stay in Pakistan. They said the health policies were terrible here, but I was determined to serve Pakistan,” Dr Qasim commented.
Unlike neurosurgeons, Dr Qasim uses invasive and modern techniques and has performed more than 270 procedures. He said that the minimally invasive approach, as opposed to open procedures, benefits patients by shortening their hospital stays and allows them to return to normal activities sooner. He was of the views that in a country like Pakistan, where hospital acquired infection rates are alarmingly high, minimally invasive procedures would also ensure a minimal infection risk.
According to Dr Qasim, a person’s lifestyle is the core reason that they may suffer a stroke. He said that under Obama’s healthcare plan, cold drinks and energy drinks have been banned in schools. However, the consumption of energy drinks is growing rapidly in Pakistan. Meanwhile, other patients demand a concession in the consultancy fee but they are not ready to abandon their smoking habit, he said.
He was of the view that the service he is providing is unprecedented in the country’s history at the community level, but he wants to provide his services to the poor patients as well.
“I have a plan to develop a fully equipped centre for this service and it would be a first of its kind in the country where 24/7 service would be available to deal with brain stroke with the help of some philanthropists,” he maintained.
This treatment demands the presence of radiologists, neurosurgeons and neurologists under one roof simultaneously.