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KARACHI, Jan 22: Speakers at a ceremony lauded the services of Dr Sher Shah Syed, a noted Karachi-based medical professional, saying that his services towards maternal health deserve emulation. The ceremony was organized by The Citizen Society of Karachi on Saturday night in honour of Dr Sher Shah, who was born in 1953 and after acquiring higher degrees in obstetrics and gynaecology from abroad preferred to join public sector hospitals to serve the ailing women.

He was also presented with the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) award “Distinguished Community Service Award” in Santiago, Chile, in 2003.

Dr Sher Shah also delivered a lecture on “Maternal health in Pakistan: lesson learned and the way ahead”, which was dedicated to Jamshed Nusserwanji Mehta, the first mayor of Karachi elected in 1933. Mr Nusserwanji is regarded for his selfless works for Karachi including elaborated development of public parks, roads, footpaths, network of maternity homes, housing schemes and education.

According to the event organizers, some more presentations under the Nusserwanji Mehta Memorial Lecture series would be held in future.

Writer Zaheda Hina said that in addition to Dr Sher Shah’s role as a professional and human right activist she knew him as a writer as well. He focused on women and the torture and stress they underwent for indifferent attitudes of the family, husbands and society.

Noted gynaecologist Prof Sadiqua Jafarey said that Dr Shah had done remarkable services for reducing the agonies of pregnant women. “When he returned from foreign education, I had suggested him to work on man infertility, but he finally started working on maternal health. It is a pleasure to note that today he is respected for his services,” she added.

In his special lecture, Dr Sher Shah discussed the pathetic condition of maternal health particularly in slums and poor families. He stressed the need for development of women population as it would lead to improve the overall health indicator.

He was of the view that the government surely could do a lot for maternal health. It was all matter of approach of the rulers, he added, and said that the huge amount invested on a recently commissioned fountain could have been utilized for maintenance of maternity homes.

Despite government claims of progress in every sector and involvement of donor agencies, health indicators were not showing any improvement, he added.

Dr Shah said that in every 20 minutes one woman died and 20 to 30 women suffered from short and long-term disability during the process of delivering a child. Almost 30,000 women died and 375,000 women developed disabilities every year in Pakistan, he added.

Among others, Aslam Farrukhi, Abdus Salam Salmi, Akhlaq Ahmad and Sabiha Ashraf also spoke.