A field visit for Baqai Dental College’s 2nd year BDS students was organized by the Community Dentistry Department. The students were escorted by Dr Asghar Ali Shigri (HOD), Dr Muhammad Ali Leghari (Asst. Professor) Dr Samreen Mazhar and Dr Raza Abbas and Dr Mahwish Bano. The outreach team visited Marie Adelaide Leprosy Center located at Mariam Manzil.
In 1960, Dr Ruth Pfau was given an assignment to help with the healthcare delivery to the poor in India, but due to visa issues was stopped in Karachi. On her very first encounter with the leprosy patients in the Colony, she got very depressed with their situation and decided to stay in Pakistan to help them out.
In 1962, she reorganized the rough-hewn dispensary established by her group members into a proper hospital – full service leprosy treatment and rehabilitation center, free of charge for patients, which later became a double-story hospital known as the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Center, an eighty-bedded hospital with 157 centers across Pakistan.
The reason for this visit was to assist students in learning about the diagnostic and preventive measures of leprosy while also being able to perform oral examination for the patients. There were 45 patients available in the facility, all of which received individual attention from the BDC students in terms examination and diagnosis.
Soon after arrival at the leprosy center, there was a short lecture on “Leprosy, a forgotten disease,” which enabled the students to figure out any suspicious dermatological or neurological signs/symptoms and diagnose leprosy in patients before it escalated into a deformity or disability causing lifelong misery for the patient. The lecture also presented statistical analysis of leprosy deformity rate in Pakistan, which is 17% although WHO demands it to be at least as low as 10%.
A debriefing session occurred with the key person while visiting Leprosy Lab to view the mycobacterium leprae which is the causative agent of leprosy. Followed by a stopover at the Eye Clinic where Rabia Riyaz educated the students regarding the eye complications common in the leprosy patients.
Before heading back, the students had the chance to visit the Dr Ruth Museum situated in the Administration Block where Nisar Malik (Media Manger) summarized Dr Ruth’s personal life, services and accomplishments. The purpose of the visit was to evaluate the prestigious services provided by the institution to eliminate leprosy, control TB and blindness, promote mother and child healthcare services, and community based inclusive development; and to create awareness among students on how to diagnose a leprosy patient at the earliest stage and to take oral examination to the patients admitted in the hospital.