Sun Life Financial Osler Global Health Team Blog

Day 2: Flight delays, weary travels do not damper team's purpose 

Team India

The one constant in healthcare is change. This is also applicable to life as well. One must adapt and adjust to the changing environment.

After more than 45 hours of travelling: flight delays, missed flight connections, the team being split off into different countries, we were finally reunited at our destination as one team of seven.

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However, with very little rest and different airports, the team remains excited and passionate about the next phase of our journey with our partners in India.

Chiranji (our honorary team member/driver of the past three years) was waiting with much anticipation. It was comforting to know he was there and is familiar with our tour’s objectives.
Even after the long journey, we visited the Golden Temple – the holiest gurdwara in the Sikh religion. It has been in existence since the 16th Century.

Amritsar means “pool of the nectar”. Luckily we had a tour guide that was able to fast-track us through the lineup, which normally would take over one hour.

Dr. Bajwa and the local gurdwara clerk educated the team on the historical significance of the temple, the stories and devotion of the public that visits.

Easily over 100,000 people visit the site each day. There is also a 24-hour ‘langar’ (open community kitchen) for everyone. Our attention was also brought to the historically important trees that are more than 500 years old that surround the temple and are taken care of by the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU).

In particular, one tree is known as the ‘Dukh Bhanjni Sahib”. It is known as the tree with the gift of healing.

We were also able to see the sunset and the “golden” hues of the temple.

If there is one skill we practiced during the last 45 plus hours of our journey from Toronto – it was resilience; the ability to recover and adapt quickly to the changing conditions and challenges.


By the time you read this, we will have had a good night’s rest and will be ready for our next day to visit our partners at Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH).

- Harpal Panesar

Day 1: Exploring possibilities with SINA; kids, candy and the beach

Global Health team


Team Pakistan

We started the day off with a quick breakfast and headed to Jumma Goth Clinic with Dr. Khalid Pervez. Once there, Dr. Kamran Iqbal and his team provided a tour of the clinic, one of the 26 clinics that SINA operates.

Patients are assigned a registration card based on their socioeconomic status. The fee is 20 Pakistani Rupees for a patient that is below the poverty line and 50 Pakistani Rupees for all others.

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While no patient is turned away, these clinics are primarily situated in areas where 70 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line.

SINA selects its locations based on this criteria in line with their values of access, quality and affordability. For these clinics, 80 per cent of the patients visiting are women and children.

When a patient comes to Jumma Goth, they are triaged, their vital signs are assessed, they see a doctor and, if required, they can fill the prescriptions on-site before leaving.

The doctors utilize protocols to treat all of their patients to ensure standardization, best practice and quality of care.

Each doctor will see a maximum of 50 patients a day to ensure that quality is not compromised.

After visiting Jumma Goth, we headed over to the Majeed Colony IIL Centre and quickly discovered that the operating model is consistent among all 24 clinics. This approach allows SINA to ensure standardization and quality control across all its sites.

The only difference between the two sites is that Majeed Colong IIL Centre has electronic medical records (EMR).

Clinicians have unique credentials that enable real-time access to a patients’ complete medical history at each visit.

Along with the obvious benefits of an EMR, in this population it also serves another purpose as majority of the patients are illiterate and cannot recall their own clinical history or list of medications.

At both sites the team enjoyed handing out candy and interacting with the children waiting with their families. At first, many of the children were very shy and timid; however they quickly warmed up to us.

We ended the day at the SINA head office discussing our observations from the day, as well as starting the preparation work for the diabetic outreach clinic.

We were all impressed by their change management approach, level of coordination and the passion and accountability seen in each member of the team to provide exceptional care to their patients.

We ended the day with a visit to Abdullah Shah Ghazi Mazar and a quick trip to the beach.

 - Jyoti Purewal

Arrival: Delays, bonding and spreading the word of our mission

Arrival in Karachi

International travel often comes with unexpected delays. In our case, the delay was another opportunity to bond with the complete Sun Life Financial Osler Global Health Program team.

We boarded the plane at 2 p.m., but did not take off until about 6 p.m., providing us with an opportunity to connect again in the small, intimate setting of an airplane.

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An unexpected benefit of this delay was hearing the interest of members of the public on the plane when asking where we were going. The passion was evident in all of the team members.

It was inspiring to observe them use words and phrases like “collaboration” “learning opportunity” “improving care for our local community” and relating it all back to Osler’s mission of “patient inspired care.” It was also great to hear words of appreciation and positive feedback from our fellow passengers. 

 We arrived in Abu Dhabi about 4 hours later than expected and had to say quick goodbyes to our colleagues leaving for India. 

 And then there were 8!

We landed in Karachi around 7 p.m. local time. We often hear about Pakistan being a busy place, but there was a calm and quiet observed by the team unanimously. Each step was streamlined and we were through customs and had our bags in less than an hour. Well, all of us except for Dr. Mohammad, Dr. Haider and Lindsay, whose luggage was delayed.

As we drove around in the city, we saw beautifully decorated buses, people on motorbikes without helmets (Dr. Haider refers to this in his presentation later this week!).

We also saw many CHHIPA ambulance stops – a welfare organization’s fleet of ambulances that are alert and ready to meet emergency situations. This is an exemplary example of “right care in the right place at the right time.”

 I am writing this from our hotel after having arrived here after about 24 hours from the time we left home! The team is off to get some rest as we are scheduled to meet our Pakistani counterparts early morning tomorrow. 

 Stay tuned!

- Jyoti Purewal

Global Health Team departs

The long (and exciting) journey to India and Pakistan begins

By the time you read this, two teams of Osler staff will have commenced their respective travels to India and Pakistan as part of the Sun Life Financial Osler Global Health Team. 

A total of 15 members are led by Florine Lobo, Osler's Chief Financial Officer and Vice-President of Organizational Performance, for Team India and Dr. Naveed Mohammad, Vice-President of Medical Affairs, for Team Pakistan.

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The program is in line with our vision of ‘patient-inspired care without boundaries’ and is in its fourth year of expanding our global impact through innovative partnerships. It is a great opportunity to leverage our work abroad to gain insights about the patients we serve to help us improve care for our own community.

Team India will be focusing their work on emergency services, mental health and addictions, as well as diabetes, while Team Pakistan will be focusing on emergency services, pediatric medicine and diabetes.

In the weeks prior to departure, both teams were hard at work and connecting with our partners in India and Pakistan to build materials to focus on the areas of interest.

As our teams waited to board, they all had the opportunity to learn about why their colleagues decided to join the Global Health Tour and they participated in some good-natured team rivalry before they split up. 

Follow along as we share our teams' journeys with you over the next two weeks.

- Harpal Panesar

Team Pakistan

Team India

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