Visit to Ahsania Mission Cancer & General Hospital

Trip Start Jul 26, 2008
Trip End Sep 27, 2008

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Pacific Inn

Flag of Bangladesh  ,
Friday, September 19, 2008

The Dhaka Ahsania Mission is a humanitarian organization based in Bangladesh that has taken a giant leap towards setting up a state of the art modern Cancer hospital to alleviate the sufferings of people who have currently no access to specialized medical treatment of Cancer. This hospital project is the result of a remarkable initiative taken by Kazi Rafiqul Alam, the visionary president of the Mission which is dedicated to humanitarian service, specially to the poor and the socially disadvantaged regardless of race, religion, caste or creed.

The new medical facility which has been dubbed by Kazi Rafiqul Alam as a "People's Hospital", will be purely a "Social Business" with a clear social mandate to provide health care services to people who may not be able afford the treatment costs. The hospital plans to provide free treatment to at least 30% of the patients who may be too poor to afford any medical service. In addition, it will have an outreach program to provide diagnostic services and counseling for patients living in the rural areas of the country.  

The hospital is being established as a "Social Business" - a business to do good rather than to earn profit. At the same time it will be a "non-loss" business, meaning that the income generated from those that can afford to pay, will cover operational costs and profits will go to expansion and improvements of the hospital. This is also similar to Professor Muhammad Yunus' approach to socially oriented business.

Khalid Shams, former Deputy Managing Director of Grameen Bank and a close associate of Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, had told me of his new passion for facilitating the creation of a major Cancer Hospital in Bangladesh during his visit to California in July '08.  He requested that I urgently visit him in Dhaka, meet the hospital leadership and see the hospital under construction, during my planned trip to Bali - India and then Bangladesh, in August and September.  Khalid has recently joined the Governing Body of Ahsania Hospital and brings with him substantive experience in initiating and managing large social enterprises of the Grameen family.

The new hospital located 20 km (12 miles) from the Mission head office in Dhaka, will be accommodated in a modern 15 story building on 3 acres of land. Upon completion, it will have 500 beds, outpatient care facilities, 7 Operating Theatres, a hospital staff that will ultimately comprise 200 doctors, 450 nurses, and a total of 2000 employees. The hospital plans to procure state of the art diagnostic, therapeutic and operation equipment.  A key element of the Cancer Hospital will be the Children's wards of the hospital.  There will also be a full-fledged medical college that trains doctors and nurses to not only staff this hospital - but also to help overcome the major deficiency of specialist doctors, oncologists and trained nurses in the country. The hospital construction began in 2005 with donations from individuals and institutions who responded spontaneously to a nationwide appeal to raise funds for the new hospital. The status to date is that civil construction of infrastructure of 10 of the 15 floors has been completed. $8 million has been raised through local contributions and another $5.7 million has been committed by the government.  However, in the meantime, costs of building materials have skyrocketed since the original construction budget was created and there is now a big cost overrun with the overall project budget now likely to approach $50 million. Additional finances have to be raised urgently, for the hospital to be able to commence operations by end of 2009.

There are minimal cancer facilities in Bangladesh and many people in both urban and rural areas of the country are dying due to lack of hospitals and doctors, to serve their cancer needs.  It is estimated that there are 1,000,000 people in Bangladesh who already have cancer and 200,000 new patients are added each year.  Currently, with existing hospital facilities, Bangladesh has the capability to serve 20,000 patients each year - which means that 180,000 patients go altogether unserved - thousands of them will needlessly suffer and ultimately die without any cancer care.  The Ashania Mission Cancer and General Hospital will serve approximately 73,000 patients each year, preventing as many as 40,000 deaths and reducing the suffering of approximately 270,000 patients all over Bangladesh.

The Ahsania Mission Cancer Hospital project is being supervised by a Governing Body, comprising eminent professionals of the country. It is chaired by Barrister Rafiqul Huq (himself a major philanthropist), one of the most renowned lawyers of the country. National Professor Dr. M.R.Khan, a famous pediatrician (he has established a children's hospital in Dhaka and a general hospital in his home district) and Dr. F. Karim (a social worker, he has promoted modern treatment methods of Cancer), an internationally reputed Oncologist, are members of the supervisory Board.  It has been further strengthened by the addition of Khalid Shams who recently retired after working for 17 years as a close associate of Professor Muhammad Yunus, who, with Grameen Bank won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. 

The hospital project is led by M. Fazlur Rahman, Managing Director of the Hospital, who was a career civil servant, including his long tenure as Secretary of Health of Bangladesh Government and as the Secretary of the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Dr. Md. Lutfar Rahman was hired in July as Project Director of Ahsania Mission Cancer & General Hospital Project.  Dr. Rahman's extensive career experience includes hospital management expertise. He was the former Executive Director, Bangladesh Institute of Health Sciences Hospital, an enterprise of diabetic association of Bangladesh-Netherlands Joint Cooperation. He had earlier worked as the Project Director, Shurawardy General Hospital, a major medical care establishment of the country operated by the Ministry of Health.   He had also worked with the World Health Organization (WHO)

Subject to the approval of a new Business Plan - we are expecting commissioning of the Cancer hospital in the following three phases:

Phase 1 -Seven of the 15 floors of the hospital to be completed by August 2009 and essential professional staff will be hired. AMCGH will commence its basic outpatient medical care services by the October - December quarter of 2009.
Phase 2 - By January 2010 the hospital will open for business.  It will have completed the hiring and training of the initial staff of 200 employees (40 doctors, 100 nurses and 60 support staff) and purchased and commissioning the equipment and furniture required to launch the facility.

Phase 3 - Targeted for completion by the end of 2010 includes two additional floors and ground breaking for the Doctors and Nurses Training at the newly established medical college.

During my last night before returning to the United States, President Alam hosted a dinner in my honor at Dhaka Club.  During that dinner I shared my own experiences with and passion for Hospice and recommended that a Hospice be included as a part of the project.  This was well received as there are minimal Hospice facilities in Bangladesh and those at the dinner were quite aware of this outstanding program and agree that this would be an outstanding addition to the overall program of Ahsania Mission Cancer and General Hospital and Hospice.

Based upon my enthusiasm for and willingness to try to be helpful in doing what I can to help this outstanding facility and program move quickly to implementation - President Alam has designated me as the Mission Ambassador to the United States, where I will look forward to sharing what I have learned with those in the United States who are interested in this work.  We created an initial action plan that would include my involvement in consulting on improvements to their website and sharing the Ashania story with contacts that Khalid developed while in the United States and helping in any way I can energize and enable the expeditious completion of this work.
I closed the evening by making a $50 donation on behalf of Maryellen Kelley who had given me a total of $200 so that she could "travel with me on my trip and for me to give away in whatever way and to whoever I felt led."  I was delighted to show my own support of this work by making this small donation which is meant to have large symbolism.

To view the entire Photo Album of pictures of the in construction Ahsania Mission Cancer and General Hospital.

Interview of Kazi Rafiqul Alam - President Dhaka Ahsania Mission - Part 1

Interview of Kazi Rafiqul Alam - President Dhaka Ahsania Mission - Part 2

To view a five minute interview of Khalid Shams.

To visit the Ahsania Mission Cancer and General Hospital website.
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sajjad hussain on

we have no hospital specially for cancer in that we are prowed for this.



Md. Golam Kibria Swapan on

Do u have any plan to Bone marrow transplantasion?"If yes , then when will u be able?

Rana on

i have seen about 5 years of the construction of this hospital when i used to go my university but their contruction sometimes remain stop.I think the project is corrupted by many illegal man.So i am hopeless about this .


Hi i'm kudrat.I am a medical technologist in radiotherapy .I am proud and very very happy for this hospital.Thanks all of members in this hospital.

Imran khan on

in bangladesh as a cancer hospitol we are proud.

kudrat on

Hi i'm kudrat.I am a medical technologist in radiotherapy .I am proud and very very happy for this hospital..we have no hospital specially for cancer in that we are prowed for this.Thanks all of members in this hospital

kudrat on

Hi i'm kudrat.I am a medical technologist in radiotherapy I am proud and
very very happy for this hospital. we have no hospital specially for cancer
in that we are proud for this. Thanks all of members in this hospital.

Kazi Rafiqul Alam on

The work of the cancer hospital is progressing very fast.We hope to start its operation partially by the end of this year.Please note that the hospital is dependent on the public donation. for completion of the remaining work.Please contact us for further information.

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