DUBAI: Pakistani expats in the United Arab Emirates have come together to build a first-of-its-kind free medical facility, the Pakistan Medical Center (PMC), in Dubai, where people of all nationalities who can not afford health care will be served.
PMC, which opened on October 5 and is located in the premises of the Pakistani Association Dubai (PAD), is the Gulf region’s first not-for-profit center built by Pakistani expats, “a gift of the Pakistani nation and the Pakistan association to the United Arab Emirates,” the center’s medical director, Dr. Nasim Sabir, said.
“Patients who cannot afford to pay will be given free medical treatment while others from low-income groups will get treatment at subsidized rates,” he said. “The PMC also has a welfare department that looks after the finances of those who are unable to afford medical treatment.”
The center, built at a cost of Dh20 million, operates six days a week, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., as an outpatient clinic. Already, doctors at the facility are seeing around 15 to 20 patients daily.
The project was launched on August 14, 2016, under the theme of “one nation one dream,” and its foundation stone laid by Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, minister of tolerance, on August 14, 2018. Community members were invited to “own a brick” worth Dh1,000 as part of their contribution to the construction of the center. Those who bought the brick were also given a 10-year membership of PAD.
The project includes the medical center, the Shahid Afridi Health and Fitness Center, the Hub47 business incubation center, the Hunarkadah platform for women entrepreneurs, Brick Café, Arts Corner, seminar and prayer rooms and an administration block.
The medical center itself has nine clinics in addition to labs and X-ray facilities, and full-time staff as well as more than 150 specialist doctors who have volunteered their time and skills. In-house laboratory and radiology services are also available.
The concept of PMC was conceived by the Medical Wing of the Pakistan Association, which first launched a free once-a-month medical camp for eligible patients. The doctors and health care professionals involved were all volunteers who soon realized that the camp was not enough, and a permanent health care facility was required. Since 2009, the Association has received more than 30,0000 patients at its free medical camps.
Pakistani celebrities have also endorsed the cause.
Pakistani writer and poet, Anwar Maqsood, said during a visit to Dubai: “It’s such a proud feeling to see Pakistanis build a center for themselves; brick by brick this building will give you a sense of ownership and your generations will take pride in claiming their parents were part of such a great cause.”
Other celebrities, such as Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi and actor Bushra Ansari, have also lent support to the center.
Speaking at Pakistan’s National Day this year, UAE minister of tolerance Shaikh Nahyan said: “I admire your initiative in establishing the PMC and commend the spirit of tolerance that will be at the heart of its operations.”