Tribute to Dr. Zohra Begum Kazi
The birth centenary of the first Bengalee Muslim lady doctor of the then undivided Bengal was observed on October 15. Professor Dr. Zohra Begum Kazi was born in Ranjangaon, Madhya Pradesh, India. Her father, late Dr. Kazi Abdus Sattar was also a renowned physician and a political personality of the sub-continent, who hailed from the famous Kazi family of Gopalpur village under Kalkini Upazilla of Madaripur district. She was a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Maulaua Shawkal Ali, Jawharlal Nehru, Ballay Bhai Patel, Sher-e-Bangla A.K. Fazlul Haque and many other luminaries of that time.
Dr. Zohra Begum Kazi was married to late Razuuddin Bhuiyan M L C & MP, the only son of the Zaminder of Hatirdia under Raipur Upazilla of Narsingdi district. He was also a dedicated social worker and a renowned politician.
Dr. Zohra Begum Kazi passed the Matriculation exam with distinction from Muslim Girls Collegiate High School, Aligarh in 1928. After passing Intermediate with distinction from Aligarh Muslim University and College in 1930 she obtained MBBS degree in 1935 from Lady Harding Medical College for Women, Delhi. She stood First Class First and was awarded the Viceroy's Medal for her meritorious achievement in MBBS final examination.
She served in different hospitals of British India as assistant surgeon for thirteen years. After the partition in 1947 she came back to her ancestral home and joined Dhaka Medical College and Hospital in 1948 as resident surgeon and settled in Dhaka. She was a cyclist, and table tennis and badminton player. Other than her mother tongue, she could also read, write and speak Hindi, Urdu, Arabic and English fluently.
Dr. Zohra Begum Kazi was a brilliant student. She received stipends and full scholarships throughout her educational career up to post graduate studies in the UK, starting from primary school. She was awarded scholarship in 1955 and successfully obtained DRCOG degree from London, UK and completed her FCPS She also successfully obtained FRCOG & MRCOG degrees from London, and joined Dhaka Medical College and Hospital as professor and head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. During her long and illustrious career she served the noble profession as senior consultant of Holy Family Red Crescent Hospital and CMH, Dhaka Cantonment (with the rank of Honorary Colonel) and as Honorary Professor, Bangladesh Medical College.
During her long service in Dhaka Medical College and Hospital Dr. Zohra Begum Kazi was shocked and disturbed at the plight and sufferings of female patients who were ignorant about modern allopathic medicine and treatment. They were usually very shy and not accustomed to seeking outdoor medical assistance in male dominated hospitals. The mortality rate amongst female patients was extremely high during that time. To mitigate their sufferings she often visited female patients door to door and motivated them to leave behind age-old superstitions and encouraged them to come out of their houses to seek medical treatment and assistance to save both mother and child. This eventually yielded positive response from the long neglected women folk of the then backward society. She was a pioneer in women's education and emancipation, and played a pivotal role in substantially increasing the enrollment of girl students in MBBS course.
Dr. Zohra Begum Kazi was a dedicated physician who attained the highest degree of professional excellence. She was honest, sincere and devoted to her sacred duties, and was punctual in her noble profession. Her philosophy was "humane behaviour, benevolent approach, patience, friendly caring, devotion and dedicated service to mankind," which she professed, taught and maintained throughout her long professional life. She was awarded "Tamgha-e-Pakistan in 1964. The National Museum, Gynecology Society, Nagorik Shambardhana Parishad, Rotaract Club of Buriganga, Aligarh Old Boys Association and Madaripur District Association accorded her receptions. She was also awarded the Begum Rokeya Padak in 2002, Ekushay Padak in 2008, and BMA Sharnoo Padak.
A social reformer like Dr. Zohra Begum Kazi may not come often. She came like a ray of light to enlighten the backward Bengali nation in those dark days. By dint of her selfless devotion, and dedication and relentless effort she reached the pinnacle of her profession. She never ran after wealth, name and fame. She used to say to her medical pupils: "Don't run after money, money will run after you, and be sincere to your noble profession." She will be remembered by the nation for her unforgettable contribution. For her selfless and dedicated service to humanity she ought to have been called the "Florence Nightingale" of Bangladesh. May Almighty Allah grant her eternal peace.