Breaking barriers through philanthropy

​​February 2, 2018


Globally, healthcare systems and institutions operate on very low profit margins; fundraising and public support are the lifeblood of equitable access. In countries like Pakistan, where the need is higher and resources are constrained, the need for philanthropy is even greater; particularly as healthcare is completely out of pocket. AKU is an institution deeply committed to philanthropy, and only ​through partnerships with faculty members​ is it able to raise millions towards the expansion of the Patient Welfare Programme and the Patients' Behbud Society for Zakat. ​More and more, faculty have beco​me an inextricable link between patients and fundraising, raising the question whether faculty should at all be involved in fundraising. 

On Friday, 2 February, Dr Faiz Bhora, MBBS 1992, and Dr Eric Moskow, engaged in a discussion, moderated by Dr Asim Belgaumi, MBBS 1989, on this topical issue, with over 50 alumni and faculty members at the Aga Khan University. Dr Bhora spoke of his dual role, as a fundraiser and a thoracic surgeon, at Mount Sinai Roosevelt and St Luke’s Hospitals. He reflected on his passion for philanthropy since his career began; when he signed his first contract with the Hospital, and he had negotiated with the Hospital ​that 5 per cent of his care would be dedicated to underserved or nonpaying patients. In return, he partnered with the fundraising team at the Hospital to raise from gratified patients who wanted to give back.  

Raising over $0.5 million each year for his hospital, today, Dr  Bhora has become a champion for Faculty partnerships in fundraising, “I have incorporated philanthropy as part of my practice, as a means of extending the care that I provide…the operating margins for healthcare institutions are very narrow. In New York they are about 1 per cent or 2 per cent margins, so if institutions ought to provide care for the underserved, that deficit has to be met from somewhere, and philanthropy really is the only source.”

Speaking as a grateful patient of Dr Bhora, Dr Moskow explained why he felt the need to give back, “That type of care signaled to me that I need to do something, while he didn’t ask [for donations] , the fantastic care triggered the need for me to want to give back. From that point of view, I can see that if somebody saves your life, you would want to gi​ve back.”

The talk ended with an enthusiastic Q&A session; faculty and alumni brainstormed on healthcare philanthropy in a developing country context where there is a higher level of poverty and less government support, hence, a more pressing need for privileged patients to give back.