Photos by Zia Ahmad & Omar Ziaee
More than 300 medical professionals joined the two-day inaugural conference of the Australian Islamic Medical Association (AIMA) in Sydney on Sat 13-Sun 14 May 2023 and while networking discussed a variety of topics intersecting modern medicine and Islamic ethics.
The gala dinner held on Saturday night at the Bankstown Sports Club attended by delegates, their spouses and community leaders was addressed by the newly elected Canterbury Bankstown Council Mayor Bilal El-Hayek and NSW Ministers, Sophie Cotsis and Jihad Dib.
The conference was fully booked out to capacity well before the closing date of the registrations and the full house of the conference hall during various sessions indicated the thirst amongst Muslim doctors to attend such forums and listen to a diverse range of speakers well versed in their professional field in relation with Islamic world view.
AIMA president Dr Muhammad Afzal Kahloon, during his welcome address, thanked the delegates for showing great enthusiasm in registering for the conference saying, “this event is not only history in the making but its you, who are making history.”
He further added, “you have traveled from near and far to attend this conference and it is so reassuring to see brothers and sisters coming from all states and towns of Australia as well as from New Zealand.”
The theme of the conference was “The Past, Present and Future of Healthcare where a number overseas and local speakers from various medical backgrounds presented on medicine and faith, history of Islamic medicine and surgery, organ donation, digital health management and community health and wellbeing.
For details on speakers and their topics please read:
AIMA Conference was sponsored by:
- Platinum: Hejaz, MATW Project, Crystal Radiology, Focus Radiology.
- Gold: Umar Flynn, AMUST (Media Partner).
- Silver: Wavelength, DHM Pathology, Avant, Bayer, MCCA, AspenMedical, MedTree, Pfizer.
At the Gala dinner on Sat night, vice president of AIMA, Dr Habib Bhurawala introduced the young Mayor of Canterbury Bankstown Council, Bilal El Hayek who was elected just a couple of days before and was attending his first community event as a mayor.
While congratulating the organisers for attracting such a large number of delegates, Bilal said, “today we have the first Muslim doctors national conference. This is huge. This shows how much we have come a long way from where we were five years ago. I mean, if you asked me five or ten years ago that I am going to address 300 Muslim doctors? There’s no way in the world this was going to happen.”
He further added, “so our community has come a long, long way. We’re very, very proud of this conference. Thank you to the organising committee for putting in a great conference. Of course, and also I pay tribute to all the doctors especially the ones that helped us through COVID. Obviously was a very tough time.We honour all those unsung heroes of that period. So thank you for doing what he did at that time.”
The NSW Minister for Industrial Relations, Sophie Cotsis said that she was honoured to be addressing the medical professionals at the inaugural national conference of AIMA.
“From the bottom of my heart I want to express a huge, huge gratitude to all of you because I know that every person that you spoke to, every person that you helped, made a huge difference within our community and the communities that you come from across Australia. Dr Habib was saying to me, many of you were from Tasmania, Western Australia, from across our great nation, you know, it must be the sense of pride, you know, for all of you to be able to come together and the work that you do with the Red Cross for blood donation and sharing of information,” Ms Cotsis said.
She further added, “we need to bring down the number of injuries, particularly people who work in construction. And we need to get that message across that you as trusted health professionals, are able to convey that message. I’m going to put forward to your council that I’d like to organise a roundtable, whether it’s at Parliament House or, you know, maybe around that hear in Bankstown or further south west and seek your feedback.”
“I am seeing a lot of our young people in entering the medical profession, young women coming through as well and seeing the young our young people who are third or fourth generation who speak other languages as well working as medical professionals is so important, particularly serving our non-English speaking migrant community. So you play a very, very important role. I’m very honoured to stand before you,” she concluded.
Jihad Dib, Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government, Minister for Emergency Services, and Minister for Youth Justice through a video message expressed his great joy in addressing Muslim doctors.
“I’m incredibly proud to be able to say there’s an Islamic association here of medical professionals, Muslim doctors and Australians, Mr Dib said.
He further added, “I’m sure that your parents are very, very proud of you as mine would have been if I had become a doctor. Thank you really for making sure that people are vaccinated and helpful and wise.”
Before the conference dinner, three medical doctors Dr Suleman Qurashi, Dr Suhana Mohdm and Dr Sharif Al Ghazal recounted “My Journey”, their life stories and experiences while practicing their medical profession.
Dr Ghazal of Syrian origin residing and practicing in UK talked about his journey in becoming a plastic surgeon and helped found the British Islamic Medical Association. He is currently leading the history of Islamic medicine project for the Federation of Islamic Medical Associations (FIMA).
Dr Suhana Mohdm from Adelaide described with great passion her experiences with her 98 year old patient on whom she made impression as her doctor and a hijabi women.
Dr Suleman Qurashi described his journey from violence prone Kashmir as a teenager to Australia and despite discouragement, showed great resilience in getting to study medicine and now practicing as an orthopaedic surgeon in Sydney.
The conference concluded with further sessions on Sunday with additional presentations and a description of AIMA’s remarkable journey so far and further planning and programs in future.