It is, indeed, a great moment for me to attend a great function. On my way to the venue of this function, I was handed over a written speech for the function but I believe that while talking to learned persons like you and a speaking on the topic of Cancer, I must deliver an off handed speech. How deadly and terrible the disease of Cancer is, only they or their families who have fallen prey of this disease know it well as they have had faced the agony of the patient side by side the financial burden and mental distress. I myself have gone through this ailment but Allah (SWT) has been very kind to me as I was a lucky person being a Cancer survivor way back in 2003. I was struck by a tumour-a very rare one. I am sure the experts sitting here would bear me out that how expensive the treatment of such an ailment is. I was treated in Jeddah-based hospital and my consultant was an Egyptian doctor and he told me that there was nothing to be worried of. He further told that the tumour on my appendix would be removed through the key-hole surgery. He was of the view that following the surgery I would be fine and would be able to move back to home by the evening and everything would be fine. So I was very happy to be a lucky person.
The doctor removed the affected part of the body and was allowed to go home the next day but before that I was yet not perfectly right. I could see lots of doctors discussing while I could see their facial impressions that the situation was not as good as I was told before the operation. I remember that I was taken to my home in Jeddah after five or six days and I was told that it was not a tumour. Later on, I went to New York and the doctors over there told me that it was the worst thing, which I did, allowing doctors to operate on me without a biopsy. The doctors were not even sure if the affected part had completely been removed or not. “If something is still hanging, there could be a chance that even smallest particle could have travelled in the bloodstream”. I went through the process again (C.T. Scan and Nuclear Tests) and God knows what was done on me.
On the third and fourth day of my surgery, a doctor use to come at 07:00 in the morning, the doctor being so punctual, Dr Brann. He said, “Mr. Sharif, I have something to share with you”. I asked as to what it was. Dr Brann told that I developed something wrong in my intestines and they became non-functional. As such, they were feeding me through tubes because I could not take anything orally. He told that all my lymph nodes were negative. Though I knew something about what he was saying. My daughter and my wife but also sitting there and she asked from Dr Brann if he could explain all that. He told that possibly you would not have to trade for a new father. Being an American you know, he was saying something good but in an American way. My daughter asked as to what he was saying. He said that he meant that horse were not out of cage. Your father is probably going to survive.
Ladies & Gentlemen!
The rest is history. I still remember, I spent about Rs 4 million in dollars during those days. Then I got to know that this disease or for that matter, any disease improvises a family which is not able to make both ends meet and that, to the only breadwinner of the family. He or she is hit by a serious disease, you can imagine the plight of that family. A family of four or five children, six members of the family, they are totally dependent on that single bread earner and if he or she departs from this world, what happens to his family. That is beyond any body’s imagination and, whatever money which has been spent on the departed souls’ treatment, most of the time is borrowed money or donation from a generous person and where is the intervention of the state, where is the care and concern of the state, where is the responsibility of those who are elected by the people and those who managed these affairs in this case, in our country. I think this is which, at least, I have been pondering over ever since. I was treated and Almighty Allah saved my life.
When I was through thick of 2010 floods, hitting Pakistan in the most serious manner during the last hundred years and I was walking, travelling, by helicopter, by car, on my scooter in Rahim Yar Khan, Rajanpur, Muzaffargarh, billions of people were drowned and their houses were flooded by water, their agriculture produce, all were gone. Thousands of animals and dozens of people died. I then realized that perhaps Almighty Allah sent me for that day to serve the humanity.
Then came, of course, the unknown diseases of Dengue in 2011and hit Punjab and specially Lahore. Its onslaught was so mighty that it was perhaps unprecedented in the history of Dengue. I was cautioned by Sri Lankan experts that Shahbaz Sharif make no mistake about it. This was probably the worst epidemic which hit Lahore and we want to congratulate you the way your team is working, your doctors, your nurses, your experts, politicians, professionals, bureaucrats, dispensers, all worked hard.
Almighty Allah has been so kind that we cannot even thank His blessings and His showering on us at that time. Only, roundabout, 250 people died then thousands of people were saved through your great efforts even though the knowledge about the disease then was too little. Despite the secondary knowledge with little information our great doctors and experts go to know what the dengue disease was all about overnight and they went all out to control the epidemic and, of course, the entire government machinery was working as a one team. There was no difference at all. All around one table at 07:00 in the morning till late at night, they use to work as a great team and that is why, in the next coming year, there was no dengue and this was again a record in the history of contemporary world that a country, a city, which was hit so badly in the previous year, turned out to be unscarred in the next.
This is, no doubt, Almighty Allah’s great kindness on us, but out of your hard work, your shared commitment, your tireless efforts, your sacrifices, the private hospitals, the foundations, all were involved in it and it was how we made a great strength. Again, now there is dengue again and this jolted my soul. May be Allah (SWT) saved me to serve humanity along with you. O Lord, forgive our sins and forgive us. I believe that it is perhaps for this that I am still alive. I kept suffering from Cancer from 2003 to 2014 that is eleven years. Almighty Allah bless me with life for which I am so grateful to Him.
Here, I am going to pose a question to you. I mean, I am Cancer survivor and cannot thank Almighty Allah enough. But today, people are bothering and troubling me, you know pose this question all of you. Do you have any medicine to control my fever because it is, almost on daily basis, I fear that this is now impeding my progress and my performance. Cancer is a name, which creates fear in the minds of all and sundry. Hay fever, as I have told, is inherited but it’s troubling you, so please, I want to request you that anybody who has a proper long term solution to control and treat this, please help, because its hampering my performance.
Ladies & Gentlemen!
I am very grateful to Novartis for this great contribution of Rs 17 billion. Novartis does have its presence in the country but they are not a Pakistani company rather a foreign company. Their turnover is, of course, 58 billion dollars as shown on the screen and understanding their responsibility as a factory which is making, of course, huge profits. They have this sense of concern and care for the people of Pakistan and out of that passion and compassion; they have decided to enhance their share in this country by an addition of Rs. 17 billion in the next five years. And if you convert this amount into dollar, it is about hundred million dollars. This is not a small amount, 17 billion rupees.
By today’s exchange rate this is not a small contribution. I would like to thank Novartis Switzerland and Novartis Pakistan for coming out with this additional amount as a great gift to those patients who have lost hope and, believe me, hope is life. If hope is gone, life is gone. If there is hope, there is life and you people have this great hope that you people are masses of this country. And you will Insha’Allah, with the blessings of God, will cure humanity through your untiring efforts, through your innovations, through your hard work. Only a healthy nation can make progress and prosperity. Poverty cannot create miracles. Therefore, I think today is the day that not only we should thanks Novartis for this wonderful contribution.
Ladies & Gentlemen!
Shahbaz Sharif have served this province and the people of this province and we are committed to do everything in our domain to serve the suffering humanity and turn the time and make them healthier through all these interactions. Short that I think the meaning of healthcare in this country will get confused and diluted.
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