A tribute to Dr Zohra Kazi | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 08, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 08, 2008

A tribute to Dr Zohra Kazi


The first Bangali Muslim lady doctor of the then undivided Bengal Professor Dr. Zohra Begum Kazi was born on 15th October, 1912 at Rajnangaon, Madhya Pradesh, India. Her father late Dr. Kazi Abdus Sattar was also a renowned physician and a political personality of the Subcontinent who hailed from the famous Kazi family of Gopalpur village under Kalkini Upazila of Madaripur district. He was a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Maulana Shawkat Ali, Jawaharlal Nehru, Ballav Bhai Patel, Sher-e-Bangla AK Fazlul Haq and many other renowned personalities of that time.
Prof Dr. Zohra Begum Kazi was married to late Razuddin Bhuiyan MLC and MP, of Hatirdia under Raipur Upazila of Narsingdhi district, a dedicated social worker and a renowned politician. Her eldest brother late Prof. Kazi Ashraf Mahmud was a famous Hindi poet and a close associate of Comrade Muzaffar Ahmed, Ramdas Gandhi, son of Mahatma Gandhi, and our national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, and a founder member of All India Communist Party. He retired as Professor of Botany Department, Dhaka University. Her only younger sister later Dr. Shirin Kazi was also a renowned physician, English poet and columnist.
Prof Dr. Zohra Begum Kazi had her early education from different places of the then undivided India. She matriculated with distinction from Muslim Girls' Collegiate High School, Aligarh in 1928. After passing Intermediate with distinction from Aligarh Muslim University & College in 1930 she obtained MBBS degree in 1935 from Lady llarding Medical College for Women, Delhi. She stood First class first and was awarded "The Vicery's Medal" for her meritorious achievement in MBBS final examination.
Prof. Dr Zohra Begum Kazi served in different Hospitals of the then India as Assistant Surgeon for long 13 years. After the partition in 1947 she came back to her ancestral home and joined Dhaka Medical College & Hospital in 1948 as Resident Surgeon (Gynae) and settled in Dhaka. She was a cyclist, table tennis and a badminton player. Other then her mother tongue, she could also read, write and speak Hindi, Urdu, Arabic and English fluently.
Prof Dr Zohra Begum, Kazi received stipends and full scholarships throughout her educational career up to post graduate studies in the UK. She was awarded scholarship in 1955 and successfully obtained DRCOG degree from London, and completed her FCPS from Pakistan. She also successfully obtained FRCOG & MRCOG degrees form London, and joined Dhaka Medical College & Hospital as Professor and Head of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology. During her long and illustrious career she served the noble profession also as Senior Consultant of Holy Family Red Crescent Hospital, CMH, Dhaka Cantt. (with the rank of honorary Colonel), Bangladesh Medical Collage (as Honoury professor) etc.
During her long service in Dhaka Medical College & Hospital Prof Dr Zohra Begum Kazi was shocked and disturbed at the plight and sufferings of female patients who were ignorant of modern allopathic medicine and treatment. They were usually very shy and not accustomed to seek outdoor medical assistance in male dominated hospitals. Mortality rate amongst female patients was extremely high during that time. To mitigate their sufferings she often went door to door and motivated them to leave behind age old superstitions and encouraged them to come out of their house to seek medical treatment and assistance to save both mother and child which eventually yielded positive response from the long neglected women folk of the then backward society. She was a pioneer in women education and emancipation and played a pivotal role in imparting education to women folk in Medical Science which substantially increased the number of enrollment of girl students in MBBS course.
Prof Dr. Zohra Begum Kazi, with highest degree of professional excellence, was honest, sincere, devoted and very punctual to her sacred duties. Her philosophy was "humane behavior, 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 "Taghma-e-Pakistan" in 1964. She was also awarded the "Begum Rokeya Padak and Ekusha Padak,"
Prof Dr. Zohra Begum Kazi passed away on November 7, 2007. A social reformer like her may not come on and often. She came like a ray of light to enlighten the backward Bengalee nation in those dark days. By dint of her selfless, devoted, dedicated and relentless effort she reached the pinnacle of fame. She never ran after wealth, name and fame. She used to say to her 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 had also been called the "Florence Nightingale" of Bangladesh.

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