Muslim Opens Free Clinic for Carolina Poor

Cookie Washington with the Coastal Interfaith Community congratulates Dr. Reshma Khan on the opening of her free Shifa Clinic.

CAIRO – Giving back to her country and showing the real image of her faith, a Muslim doctor has championed an initiative to open her dream free clinic to serve uninsured women in South Carolina.

“I am just so happy. It is a dream come true for me,” Dr. Reshma Khan, 41, a gynecologist at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, told The Post and Courier on Friday, December 09.

“The idea was just to serve and help,” she added.

With a vision to help the poor in her city to receive health care, Khan, a local Veterans Affairs doctor, has been working to establish a free clinic in Mount Pleasant.

With help from the Islamic Circle of North America Relief USA, which is paying the rent on the three-room clinic located in an office building on Lowcountry Boulevard, Khan was able to fulfill her dream.

The Shifa Clinic will offer free care on Saturdays starting Jan. 7.

“They are helping me set this up,” she said.

After the initial cash infusion from ICNAR, she hopes the effort will become self-sustaining through local donations and grants.

The clinic would offer health care for uninsured women between the ages of 17 and 65, Khan said.

Routine gynecological exams including pap smears, breast exams and mammograms will be available at Shifa Clinic.

Contraception, treatment of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy testing will be offered but not obstetrics services.

Khan also hopes of expanding the types of care if other physicians and nurses volunteer.

As the clinic space will be used one day a week, Khan is considering using the space for other purposes, such as tutoring students in biology.

Helping Needy

For Muslims, the Shifa clinic, the first of its kind in the state, showed the true tenets of Islam which urges help for the needy.

“In Islam, we believe that we have to do service and help everyone,” Imam Mohamed Melhem of Central Mosque of Charleston said.

Dr. Ghazala Javed of North Charleston, also welcomed the new clinic as showing patriot spirits of US Muslims.

“This is in the true Islamic spirit. It will make its mark,” said

Not only Muslims.

Rev. Ed Kosak of Unity Church of Charleston also praised the effort exerted by Muslim doctors.

“There are a lot of people who are needing it badly,” Kosak said of the clinic.

Randy Becket of Harvest Free Medical Clinic agreed.

“You are going to be a blessing to the medical community and you will not be short of patients,” he said.

Americans Muslims have launched similar initiatives across the country.

Last year, a group of Ohio doctors opened the Noor Community Clinic, offering free medical check-ups and counseling for people without medical insurance or government help.

More than a decade since its establishment, University Muslim Medical Association (UMMA) is now serving about 16,000 US patients of all religious backgrounds.

In 1996, a group of US Muslim students, dissatisfied with the lack of Muslim involvement in solving America’s social issues, launched the first full-time charitable clinic in the US.

The US is the world’s richest nation but the only industrialized democracy that does not provide health care coverage to all of its citizens.

The US spends more than double what Britain, France and Germany do per person on health care.

But it lags behind other countries in life expectancy and infant mortality, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

( / 17.12.2011)

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