March 2010, Volume 60, Issue 3

My Experience With JPMA

Dr Sadiah Ahsan Pal - Department Gynaecology & Obstetrics, Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi.


My affiliation with JPMA started in 1995 upon my return to Pakistan after my postgraduate training in UK, and obtaining membership of the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists.
I was encouraged by my Senior Registrar, Mr.Isaac Manyonda and Consultants, Mr. Jeremy Wright and Mr. Tim Spencer that it would be a good idea to get my long commentaries (written for obtaining membership of the RCOG) published in a journal, as it was significant work. I wrote several papers and case reports, and submitted them to JPMA. My consultants were in favour of British and other international journals; however my patriotism overrode their wishes. JPMA was internationally recognized and indexed  (and my name would still be on the internet, as Dr Zuberi had informed me with a twinkle in her eye).
At that time I did not personally know the JPMA editorial board members. Subsequently I submitted another paper from my Karachi experiences. In my enthusiasm to impress, this paper included a lot of graphs & tables, as well as long discussions etc. In the previous papers I had written, I was guided by my teachers in UK and Pakistan (Dr. Tasnim Ahsan, Dr. Sadiqua Jafarey). This submission to JPMA led to my first encounter with Dr Sarwar Zuberi. I got a call from the JPMA office saying that Dr Zuberi wanted to meet me. Knowing her by reputation, I was honored by this request.
We met in her austere PMRC office, located in JPMC. I was in great awe of her. She was the Sheila Sherlock of Pakistan, editor of JPMA , etc. I had not seen her before, and was surprised by her appearance. A delicate diminutive woman, who had great presence. I felt as though she towered over me (I was taller than her).  I could not see her eyes clearly because of her glasses. As I waited anxiously, she started by telling me that I write well, but I can write better. As she continued to talk, her friendliness, humility and knowledge flowed through: "Scientific writing is about minimizing your words, reduce the number of tables (they look very nice but are expensive to print), the information mentioned in your tables need not be repeated in your text", she told me. She spent nearly a whole hour with me, giving me an intense lesson on research and paper-writing.
My paper was nearly reduced to half its content and got published! This was the start of my association with Dr. Zuberi. She then started sending me articles for peer-review, invited me to the Saturday afternoon meetings at PMA house, if I could find time. Some years down the line I earned a place on the editorial board of JPMA. This was a great honour for me, a highlight of my professional career. I felt proud of myself for being amongst such illustrious members of the Pakistani medical community. This was comparable to my other moment of triumph when I attended the convocation of my MRCOG degree at the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists, when I felt that I was walking on air.
Dr. Zuberi facilitated a workshop on research methodology, which I had organized at Liaquat National Hospital, and declared that such workshops should be held in every medical institution in Pakistan. "Research does not have to be expensive; we are in our infancy, collect your data and publish as a first step…".
A week before she died she called me and said laughingly, "Sadia, tumhare paas mera ek parcha hai, kab wapis karo gi?" This was her gentle way of reminding me that the article I was reviewing needed to be returned. Especially as she was going in for her knee replacements the next day, she wanted to make sure that she had tied all the loose ends.
I next spoke to her the day before she died while she was in hospital. I told her that her article had been returned. She laughed. Waquar sahib from JPMA office called me the next day when I was teaching final year students of Baqai Medical University and informed me of her death. I could not continue teaching after that. Instead I told these students about her achievements. They were not aware that such a doctor existed in Pakistan. Even though my contact with her was brief, I felt a great sense of loss, for myself, the medical community of Pakistan and of course JPMA.
Dr Zubairi\\\'s selfless, patriotic spirit lives on in JPMA through the tireless endeavors of Drs. Fatema Jawad, Huma Qureshi, JPMA Board members, and the office staff who devote a great proportion of their time to medical research in Pakistan, either gratis or with very meager compensation.

Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association has agreed to receive and publish manuscripts in accordance with the principles of the following committees: