Dr. Muhammad Ibrahim: A great reformer | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 06, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 09:46 PM, September 05, 2013

Lest We Forget

Dr. Muhammad Ibrahim: A great reformer

Dr. Muhammad Ibrahim Dr. Muhammad Ibrahim

NATIONAL Professor Mohammad Ibrahim, a successful physician, gifted teacher, talented socio- health organiser and a great reformer, was born on December 31,1911 in Murshidabad, India. The nation is commemorating his 24th death anniversary today with profound respect and regard. He spent the major part of his life in the Government Health Services in different key positions after getting the MB degree in 1938 and becoming MRCP in 1949. He was made an FCCP in 1950. He was Chairman of the Medical Research Council and of the Council of Scientific Research in Pakistan.
Dr. Ibrahim was the first to think of diabetic care in the country. He realised that diabetes was a disease where not only the doctors but patients should be involved in the process of diabetic care. He organised a group of social workers, philanthropists and professionals who helped him establish the Diabetic Association of Pakistan (now Diabetic Association of Bangladesh) on February 28, 1956. He also founded Diabetic Association in Karachi and Lahore, West Pakistan, in 1964.
Dr. Ibrahim's motto was 'no diabetic patient should die untreated, unfed or unemployed even if she/he is poor.' So, he gave primary care to the diabetic patients free of cost, irrespective of their socio-economic, racial or religious status.
He established the diabetes health-care and research institute complex, Bangladesh Institute of Research and Rehabilitation in Diabetes, Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders (BIRDEM), at Dhaka in 1980. It was the first such centre in Asia.
His humility was legendary and most genuine. Deep empathy and compassion were characteristics of his dealing with his patients, especially those who were poor and in pain. He also motivated other doctors to serve the patients with empathy. He included social welfare, health education, nutritional education and rehabilitation in the diabetes healthcare delivery system. He believed that an institution achieves its goal and excellence not by bricks and mortars; nor by machine or metals but by its human resources.
For over three decades, Dr. Ibrahim succeeded in generating awareness about diabetes through free-of-cost quality services, health education, and motivation. He also established the Bangladesh Institute of Research and Training for Applied Nutrition (BIRTAN) and Rehabilitation and Vocational Training Centre (RVTC) in Dhaka to develop low-cost nutrition, and to give vocational training to poor and unemployed diabetics.
He took keen interest in family planning. His involvement began as a founder member of the Family Planning Association of Bangladesh in the mid-fifties. He made his real impact as adviser to the president, with the rank of minister in-charge of the Ministry of Health and Population Control, in the mid-1970's. He was instrumental in formulating the population control policy of the government for the first time and introduced the National Population Council.
Following the guidance and philosophy of its founder, the Diabetic Association of Bangladesh has upheld its vision that no diabetic should die untreated, unemployed or unfed even if poor and all people shall be provided with affordable health care service.
Dr. Mohammad Ibrahim died on September 6, 1989. His death anniversary is observed as Diabetic Service Day (Sheba Dibash) to endorse and honour his great contribution to socio-medicare services.

The writer is Chief Coordinator, Diabetic Association of Bangladesh. E-mail: mazid1273@hotmail.com

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