Pakistani-Louisville doctor speaks to medical students about flood relief



By Nicole Schladt

One Louisville doctor has helped with flood relief in Pakistan and shared his experience with UK students Monday.

Dr. Shahid Qamar, a practicing physician at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center in Louisville, spoke with UK medical students about his experience with relief efforts in Pakistan, focusing on the struggle to raise money for his cause.

The August 2010 flooding in Pakistan has had immense ramifications over the last few months.

The floods affected an estimated 20.6 million people, according to the United Nations, and more than 1,767 people have died.

Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Britain has even warned that the cost of flood relief efforts may exceed $15 billion.

Qamar shared photos of the people he encountered through his aid work and discussed the health issues Pakistanis now face in the months following the disaster.

Qamar traveled to his native Pakistan after the flooding to teach villagers how to install New Life water purifiers. These water wells are able to filter up to 800 gallons of contaminated water an hour and provide the clean water individuals need to survive in the region, Qamar said.

He worked closely with the Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of Kentucky and Indiana and Edge Outreach to install more than 73 water purifiers throughout Pakistan.

Qamar also helped with fundraising efforts for other projects, including the construction of homes and schools destroyed by the flood.

“The disaster (in Pakistan) opened up an opportunity for me to make this project my life project,” Qamar said. “I had no idea that this flood would change my life.”

The chapter of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations at the UK College of Medicine hosted Qamar’s talk so UK students could learn about everything he witnessed as a result of the flooding, the organization’s Vice President Jessica Neely said.

“(The IFMSA likes) to raise awareness amongst the medical community about international affairs in medicine,” said Priya Jain, the organization’s president.

Qamar echoed this idea of raising awareness and challenged UK medical students to make a difference in the global community.

“We are the most privileged people living in the United States right now,” Qamar said. “These people are not privileged like us. You can spend your time, your resources, your good health for these people.”