When I first stepped into the magnificent building of the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre, founded by Imran Khan and named in the memory of his mother; I felt like I had stepped into another country. I worked as part of a team of accounting consultants, rendering our services to the Hospital. Within days I fell in love with it, despite being a consultant, I had the opportunity to witness other aspects of the hospital; the ethics and hard work. A culture that is prevalent everywhere in the world, but the most remarkable was the transformative effect this culture had on the average Pakistani, as soon as they stepped into the organized and clean hospital. Our generally misbehaved, impatient and manic citizens, who show little regard for rules and regulations let alone their fellow human beings, all turn into caring and respecting human beings.

Employees and patients alike were respectful towards each other, not just towards each other but towards the rules and norms of the place. Something as simple as queuing for lunch in an orderly manner; often proves to be a challenge for most Pakistanis. However, for some reason, within these walls, the very same people seemed to be able to adhere to the principles of forming a queue. It’s almost as if being part of an organized system and watching it produce effective results, leads to people adopting a similar approach. Perhaps employees at SKMCH&RC, from witnessing it first hand, have recognized the benefits of playing by the rules and conforming to the system, something rarely seen in our part of the world.

However, this may not be the only explanation for this wonderfully refreshing behaviour, another aspect of the hospital’s operation, in which it stands as a rarity, is its commitment to providing equal opportunities to all of its employees. Like all large hospitals, it employs people from a variety of backgrounds, both educational and social; from the guard who stands outside the gates, to the gardener, to the receptionist, the doctors and all the way up to the CEO. But unlike most hospitals in Pakistan, and indeed other organizations, SKMCH&RC provides an equal chance to success and progress within the organization.

It provides a chance for self improvement and hard work resulting in growth. I have borne witness to many such instances, where a member of the kitchen staff has gone on to progress all the way up to an executive position. Such an occurrence is surely unheard of here. After all, how often do you get to see a CEO queuing up behind a security guard, to be served his lunch or tea? For this and for being the flag bearer for a model organization and institution, let alone a top notch Cancer Hospital, I say ‘Kudos SKMH&RC!’

QASIM ALI,

Lahore, September 24.