By John Carruthers, staff writer, January 02, 2012
When Pakistan experienced one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent history record-setting floods during the summer of 2010 University of Chicago dermatologist Aisha Sethi, MD, found herself moved to take action. Though born in the United States, she grew up in Lahore, Pakistan, and much of her family still lives in Pakistan. With a specialization in tropical diseases to contribute, Dr. Sethi made a pair of trips to Pakistan to provide relief.
“For me volunteerism is part of practice. It’s the way I envisioned life for me as a physician and I’m very grateful that it’s become an integral part of my career.”
- When flooding hit, nearly a fifth of Pakistan was under water. The flooding directly affected 20 million people and caused an estimated $43 billion in damage. United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon called it among the worst disasters he had ever seen.
- “My whole family is back in Pakistan, and the flooding affected a large part of the central Pakistan region,” Dr. Sethi said. “It was overwhelming, because it was affecting so many people many of whom I knew.”
- Dr. Sethi saw as many as 600 patients each day, working out of a mobile skin disease clinic about an hour outside Lahore, Pakistan’s second-largest city. She worked each day rapidly diagnosing common conditions such as scabies, fungal infections, and impetigo and the Pakistan Society of Teledermatology provided medications free of charge.
- “I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of people coming in to receive treatment, and by the destruction I saw while traveling to the area,” she said. “There were tents everywhere, huge camps set up by people who had lost their houses. I was fortunate in that I have background in tropical medicine and skin disease, I knew the language, and I was able to help.”
To nominate a physician, visit www.aad.org/membersmakingadifference