From a primary school in Lyari to Yale’s School of Medicine, Dr Junaid Razzak’s story is an inspiring one.
Today, Razzak is a renowned emergency medicine expert and the executive director of the Aman Foundation. He started his schooling at a humble primary school in Lyari, completing his secondary education from Nasira School in Depot Lines. Not one to be held back, the hard-working student subsequently attended Adamjee Science College where his impressive grades and unbounded enthusiasm won him a scholarship at the prestigious Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), the top private medical institution in the country.
It was in his fourth year of medical school that Razzak discovered his true calling: emergency medicine. “Fourth year is the time when you choose your field. Most of my fellow students went abroad for internships, but I stayed back and spent time in the emergency room at AKUH,” he says.
Before they could come back, Razzak did his PhD in Public Health at the world-renowned Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, where he focused on the use of ambulance data for monitoring road traffic accidents. Finally, in 2005, the studious boy from Kharadar returned to Pakistan as a successful, qualified expert in emergency medicine.
He joined his alma mater, AKUH as a faculty member and went on to successfully found Pakistan’s first emergency medicine service (EMS) training programme at the university. “There were many doctors who were awarded their degrees without ever administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) as it wasn’t a requirement,” he reveals.
This changed when his EMS programme became a mandatory rotation that all students had to serve. Subsequently, Razzak went on to build and head a new emergency department. Yet, the battle was just half won. Students in the new department faced a dilemma, similar to the one Razzak had as a student. They were required to go to the United Kingdom to sit for their exam, otherwise they would not be considered qualified.
“We had trainees, but no exams here,” he says. “If these students couldn’t sit for their exams here, they weren’t qualified on paper and therefore couldn’t be hired as consultants.”
Determined to remove, for others, the hurdles that he himself had crossed only after many toils, Razzak collaborated with the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP) to organise a curriculum for the specialised field. The first batch for this course was enrolled last year. Now students wanting to specialise in emergency medicine will be able to obtain certification in their chosen field, without having to travel abroad.
“I consider this a major achievement,” he says with a smile. “I don’t think there is any country that requires this specialisation more than us, with all the natural disasters, deteriorating law and order situation and terrorist attacks that we face.”
At just 40, this medical expert has achieved what most people can only dream of in a lifetime, but he still has big plans for the future. Razzak will shortly launch a tele-health service for Aman Foundation and dreams of building a world-class health facility in Pakistan. It seems that nothing is impossible for this inspirational doctor.