Treating victims of abuse, healing souls: Dr. Amjad’s story

Islamabad, 2 August 2017 - In the busy, lively ICMC Pakistan office, colleagues warmly hail “Dr. Farah” in the common space. Dr. Farah Amjad is one of the two medical officers at the ICMC field office in Islamabad. She is an experienced general practitioner with a warm, gentle demeanor.

Dr. Amjad in her ICMC office.Dr. Amjad in the ICMC's basic health unit in Islamabad. Photo: ICMC/ C. De Luca Before joining ICMC about two years ago, she worked in a government hospital in Islamabad. After a while, Dr. Amjad dreamed of joining a community-based organization to serve the most vulnerable. She was then selected by ICMC to treat refugees in the basic health unit located within the premises of the office in Islamabad, a well-equipped outpatient department with several consulting rooms and a pharmacy.

“We have recently had four patients affected by tuberculosis, and none of them had to spend a single penny to get the appropriate treatment at ICMC,” Dr. Amjad commented. “I think the biggest ICMC’s achievement from a medical point of view is the capacity of conducting free-of-charge diagnostic tests,” the doctor explained.

As a physician, she is very much attracted by new challenges. “Having to deal with language barriers and being accompanied by skilled interpreters to fulfil my duty is of course a key challenge in my daily work!” She smiled candidly while acknowledging that she became more patient in such a growingly hectic environment where she treats refugees of several nationalities, including Afghan, Somali and Iranian.

Dr. Amjad mostly treats refugee women but has visited refugee men, too, during peak times. Based on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) referral mechanisms, she treats particularly vulnerable refugees who have been referred to ICMC. On a daily basis, the doctor conducts medical assessments and makes recommendations for basic subsistence allowances based on health and vulnerability criteria. ICMC’s Medical Officers mostly examine patients for regular epidemics while referring chronic cases to government hospitals for follow up tests and X rays.

Most of the ICMC patients are often protection cases, too. Refugee women are vulnerable and exposed to sexual or gender-based violence, but rarely denounce or report it in government hospitals, for fear of police involvement and investigation as well as stigma from the community. ICMC helps those who have suffered from sexual- and gender-based violence by providing them with safe shelter, awareness workshops, literacy classes, medical care, psychosocial and legal support. Indeed, ICMC staff treat patients with outstanding care, despite being unaware of their past as UNHCR does not disclose patients’ history but only refers the most vulnerable individuals to ICMC.

Dr. Amjad cherishes being part of an honest, committed team ready to go the extra mile to secure refugees a better future. “Everything we do is crystal clear. We are dedicated and passionate about the cause, and refugees know it.”

Some time ago, two of her patients, hearing and speech impaired, were resettled to the United States, and the office staff chipped in to buy hearing aids before their departure. “It’s the greatest honor to serve refugees; it’s about our common humanity, and each time it soothes my heart,” the doctor commented.