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ACP Leaders On The Road:
Sara E. Walker, MD, MACP

Report of teaching trip to Pakistan, 2010

Lahore, Pakistan

Opening the Arthritis Care Foundation in Lahore, Pakistan. From left to right (front row): Drs. Muhammad Ahmad Saeed, Sumaira Farman Raja, Sara E. Walker, Dr. Nighat Mir Ahmad.

I arrived in Lahore at 2:00 am on March 16, 2010. My invitation to give talks in Pakistan had come from my good friends, Nighat Mir Ahmad, President of the Pakistan Society for Rheumatology (PSR), Dr. Sumaira Farman Raja, Co-Chair of the Arthritis Care Foundation, and Professor Kamran Hameed, Chair of the Organizing Committee of the 14th International Conference of the PSR. Dr. Muhammad Ahmad Saeed, Professor of Rheumatology at Fatimah Memorial Hospital College of Medicine and Dentistry and representatives of the sponsoring pharmaceutical company were waiting to meet me. I was quickly installed in a first-class hotel.

The following day, I spoke to students and faculty at FMH on recognizing common rheumatic diseases. Afterwards, residents and fellows presented four challenging cases of systemic lupus erythematosus for discussion. Happily, the patients were present. Rheumatology faculty and trainees are familiar with the latest treatment protocols and new therapeutic agents are available to them, so my brain got a strenuous workout in a thoroughly enjoyable one-on-one teaching session. In the afternoon, we saw patients at a charity clinic and school for orphans supported by women internists.

Drs. Nighat and Sumaira and I appeared on Lahore television the next morning to answer call-in questions about rheumatic diseases. Next, we visited former ACP Regent, Professor Arif Amir Nawaz, Head of Gastroenterology, to celebrate the opening of the new Endoscopy Unit and Procedure Room at FMH, dedicated to his late father. A plaque in the unit honors the US doctors and nurses who contribute equipment and supplies to help keep things going. We then went downtown and held a public information session designed to educate people about arthritis. Several patients of Drs. Nighat and Sumaria were there to support the need for trained rheumatologists in Pakistan. The session was followed by the inauguration of the Arthritis Care Foundation, a registered charity affiliated with the national Behbud Association, which will promote treatment and rehabilitation for those who cannot afford care.

On March 22, we were in Karachi for the annual PSR Conference. Dr. Terry Gibson, Consultant Rheumatologist at Guy’s Hospital, London, Dr. Humeira Badsha of the Dubai Bone and Joint Center, and I were the speakers who had traveled the longest distances. Along with the in-country speakers, we managed to cover the major topics in connective tissue disease over two and a half days.

There was good interest in the American College of Physicians, too, and we will soon add to the 57 ACP members in Pakistan. Academicians especially welcomed teaching materials such as slightly outdated copies of MKSAP that I was able to provide through the generosity of ACP headquarters. Adjusted dues and on-line versions of the Annals are going to promote the recruitment of members in this part of the world.

This was not a hardship trip for me. My hosts, in fact all the folks I met, were as kind and welcoming as could be, and there were no difficulties with travel. The ultra-nice accommodations featured super restaurants where yours truly put on four pounds. There is plenty of exchange between the Pakistani, European, and US medical communities, and medical conferences are conducted in English. It is my hope that the political atmosphere in the Middle East will some day allow greater exchange between internists from the USA and their colleagues in Pakistan.

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