He breathed his last on 26th June 2020 after battling COVID for 5 days in ICU. He has always been a warrior and proved it again on his last journey. He was serving his patients till the last minute of his practice when he was forcibly shifted to the hospital after having uneasy breathe. He probably contracted multiple infections and finally succumbed to COVID. I knew Dr. Fasih for more than 30 years. He was not only my Brother-in-law (married my sister Dr. Ilmana Quraishi in Delhi) but was great friend and an elder brother; and an advisor and ‘Father-like’ figure.
History has repeated again. I lost my father in 1998 (Professor Zaheer Masood Quraishi) when we (I and my twin brother Subhi) were still studying in Moscow. We immediately came back to India. Losing one’s father is one of the most difficult things of life. At that time, Dr. Fasih and my sister (Dr. Ilmana) were serving in Saudi Arabia as medical doctors and were living a lavish life. Then Dr. Fasih with my sister came down to India to console us. He stayed with us for more than a month, sacrificing his work and vacations, just to ensure that we come back to normalcy. After losing my father, I found a father-like figure in Dr. Fasih. He guided us how to rebuild a new life in India. And soon we found a new mission, ZMQ (as a tribute to our father), to develop technologies for poor and marginalized communities in India. But this is a different story.
For all these years, we stayed very close to Dr. Fasih. He guided us and loved us. While serving in Saudi Arabia, he religiously attended all our family functions in India – marriages, births and other celebrations without missing a single event. In all those functions, he played the role of my FATHER. In 2010, my sister (Dr.Ilmana) moved to Toronto, Canada to secure the future of her children. To support his family financially, Dr. Fasih stayed back in Saudi Arabia. But it was not for long. He had a mission. In 2013, Dr. Fasih gave up all the comforts of his life to come back to his home town, Karachi, to set up a model of excellence – ‘An Affordable Healthcare System for All’ by setting up ‘TAJ Consultants Clinic’ (named after his mother Late Syeda TAJ-unnisa, as a tribute to her) to serve the marginalized and under-privileged communities. He used all his personal life-savings to build this beautiful hospital. Living in a system, which demanded bribes at every step for approvals, he fought corruption at every step to save every single penny to benefit the marginalized. Living an affluent life in Saudi Arabia with posh cars, he just managed to buy a modest car in 2019, 6 years after his return to his home town.
Dr. Fasih was not an Ashoka Fellow. Neither was he a Schwab nor a Skoll Fellow. Probably, he never understood these terms. But he very well understood his mission – to create a sustainable healthcare model to serve poorest of the poor communities on ethical values. Even while working in the Royal hospital in Saudi Arabia, more than 50% of Dr. Fasih’s patients were poor and illegal workers whom he served for free. He was an extremely loving and caring person, who was ready to help anyone anywhere anytime. Just before COVID engulfed South Asia, in early March, he came to Toronto to see his family. I met him last time in Toronto on 16th March 2020 before I came back to India. Soon he was stuck up in the lock-down. As COVID started spreading in South Asia, his patients in Karachi started calling him day-in and day-out. He became restless. Finally in mid of May, before Eid, he took a special chartered flight and returned to Karachi. Since then he started working more than 16 hours a day and serving over 100 patients.
Dr. Fasih was a fearless and an upright professional. He was a sportsperson and physically very fit with no co-morbidity. He would have never died because of heart attack or being bedridden due to any other disease. But everyone has to die one day. It must have been a challenge for God as to find a reason to snatch Dr. Fasih from us. And COVID infection was an excuse for God to take him away. The world lost a committed and caring doctor serving humanity at this crucial time of pandemic. And I lost my Father again! But he is indeed a Warrior and a Martyr who will remain forever in the hearts of his family members, friends, colleagues and his patients. What more one can wish for – To live like Dr. Syed Fasihuddin and also to die like Dr. Syed Fasihuddin. I love you Bobby Bhai. I will always miss you !
~ Hilmi Quraishi
Ashoka Fellow, Globalizer
Founder ZMQ Global