The Alma Bi Hospital
Open since 2007, The Alma Bi Hospital has made an enormous difference to the lives of thousands of poor people. During specialist "camps" patients sometimes travel as far as 200 miles to receive treatment they can't find anywhere else in the country.
The hospital is funded entirely by charitable donations, mostly through The Alma Hospital Trust in the UK. It's eschewed government or corporate support in order to ensure its integrity and high standards of operation. But these ethics clearly come at a cost and there's a constant struggle to raise enough money to keep the hospital going.
The hospital itself comprises:
- 75 in-patients beds
- 2 operating theatres
- 3 GP consulting rooms
- Large dispensary / pharmacy
A vital aspect of day-to-day operations is its western attitude to cleanliness and hygiene. The fabric of the building is always kept immaculately clean, minimising the risk of infection. No smoking and no spitting rules are strictly enforced. This is not a prevalent attitude in free hospitals throughout the country, as many are kept in very poor condition. Younis believes that your ability to pay should not affect your chances of recovery.
The Alma Bi Hospital resides in District Hafizabad, in the Western Punjab. About 120km from Lahore and 250km from Islamabad, it's the farming heartland of the Punjab, irrigated by the mighty Chenab canals. Wheat and sugar cane fields dominate the landscape, harvested by a poverty stricken rural population, whose lives have changed little for hundreds of years.
Health data gathered from the local population has improved continuously since the hospital first opened. Of particular pride is the drop in infant mortality, which has shown a marked improvement since the hospital started offering comprehensive maternity care.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Younis is that he’s achieved so much while maintaining a life completely devoid of the trappings of wealth or social status. Put simply, he’s just a postman who built a hospital!
His unwavering integrity ensures that he never takes a penny from the charity, not even for subsistence. And he expects all trustees and major benefactors to adopt the same attitude.
This level of morality is sometimes hard for others to live up to. But through sheer force of will it’s become the hallmark of the charity and the hospital’s day-to-day operations. It wouldn’t be the remarkable project that it is without Mohammed Younis.
Younis proudly, but reluctantly, accepted an MBE in 2006 for services to charity and The Royal Mail. This undoubtedly increased interest in the charity and his work. But he generally avoids the accolades that accompany such remarkable achievements, even objecting to plaques or dedications within the hospital itself.
So, rather than receive your praise for his incredible efforts, Younis would much prefer you give to his charity, knowing that every penny donated is being spent wisely and with care.