Dr Aijaz Fatima — an epitome of dedication and hard work

KARACHI: Dr Aijaz Fatima — a seasoned gynaecologist and the founder of Ziauddin Hospital — was laid to rest on Friday on the premises of Jama Masjid on Ziauddin University Link Road campus.

A large number of people, including the city’s dignitaries, university teachers, students and hospital staff attended her funeral prayers.

She leaves behind four children, 11 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Born on Dec 31, 1926 to Sir Dr Ziauddin Ahmad and Begum Izhar Fatima, Dr Aijaz Fatima was an epitome of elegance, grace and hard work and a force to be reckoned with. She set the foundation for the development of one of the major healthcare establishments in the country.

Her mother passed away when Dr Fatima was only 19 months old. After the demise of her mother, Dr Fatima and her four siblings became the responsibility of their father Sir Dr Ziauddin Ahmad — a renowned politician, educationist and a scholar. He was also the first pro vice-chancellor, vice chancellor and rector of Aligarh Muslim University.

From thereon, Dr Fatima embarked on a tough journey filled with challenges. At the age of 12, she moved to Aligarh where she completed her secondary intermediate education. She completed her matriculation and intermediate from Aligarh and dreamt of enrolling in a good medical college. Thus, she obtained admission to the MBBS programme of the Lady Hardinge Medical College, Delhi.

It was during this educational journey that Dr Fatima came face to face with the hardest time faced by the Muslims in the subcontinent — the Partition. There was violence everywhere, and amidst this stress, Dr Fatima continued to pursue her education.

In the latter half of 1947, she lost her father who had a stroke during his stay in the UK. Dr Fatima moved to Karachi and obtained admission to Dow Medical College. Though devastated by her father’s death, she proceeded to study in order to accomplish the dreams of her parents. She completed her MBBS in 1952 and got married the following year. Soon after, she started a government job at the Civil Hospital Karachi. This was followed by another job at the Jinnah Hospital.

In 1957, Dr Fatima and her husband Dr Tajammul Hussain left their government jobs and started a two-room maternity home in Nazimabad with the aim of serving the community. At that time, there was not much development in Nazimabad and it was a barren land. Dr Fatima was responsible for laying the foundation of the first hospital in the area.

“She was an extremely hard-working and committed woman with a vision. I first met her when I was at Jinnah Hospital for my undergraduate studies and she was the resident medical officer in the late 1960s,” said noted gynaecologist Dr Sadiqua N. Jaffery, adding that she remained associated with Dr Fatima for a long time.

“People loved her polite and kind demeanour. She was a patient listener and showed deep interest in everything she took up.”

Prof Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui, who served as the vice chancellor of Ziauddin University, said Dr Fatima was an inspiration for everyone.

“Her immense dedication regardless of the hardships she faced is proof that strength lies within one’s mind. I am personally very impressed with the way she served the community, built institutions amid so many obstacles.”

Dr Fatima was always very positive, encouraged people to take up challenges and remained socially active till the end, he added.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2021