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Jubilee includes free healthcare

Doctors treat poor in Karachi slum as part of anniversary program

A doctor tends to a patient at Stella Maris Church in Karachi (Photo by Simon Andrews) A doctor tends to a patient at Stella Maris Church in Karachi (Photo by Simon Andrews)
  • Ayyaz Gulzar, Karachi
  • Pakistan
  • June 4, 2012
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St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Karachi has started offering free medical care to the poor as part of programs marking its upcoming 75th anniversary.

About 200 people, including a number of Muslims, attended the first free medical camp held on Sunday at Stella Maris Church in Neelam Colony, a slum in the southeast of Karachi mostly made up of housemaids and cleaners.

The Parish Pastoral Council kicked off the medical campaign after a recent survey in its 21 areas, including Neelam Colony, found the basis for a host of possible health problems.

“We discovered an ignorance of family planning, underage marriages, gynecological problems, hypertension and low hemoglobin [counts] ,” said Daphne Alfrey, a council chair.

On Sunday, three doctors and a nurse treated children diagnosed with conditions including scabies and intestinal parasites.

“Many could not afford vitamin, calcium or iron tablets,” said Alfrey.

The council has collected donations of about 30,000 rupees (US$330) to help fund the project.

Religious teachers would accompany doctors when identifying the seriously ill ahead of submitting them to hospital, said Alfrey.

“Our next goal is to set up a dispensary as well as a counseling service,” she added.

Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi is scheduled to open celebrations for the church’s platinum jubilee on June 19.

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