Dr Rabia Baloch's professional visit

Dr Rabia Baloch's professional visit

In April 2017, CLAN welcomed Dr Rabia Baloch to Australia for a professional visit. Dr Baloch serves as CLAN’s Community Development Officer in Karachi, Pakistan.  Her drive and dedication to raising awareness for Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) has followed her across land and sea from Pakistan to Australia.


Dr Baloch’s first stop on her professional visit was at the 15th World Congress of Public Health in Melbourne, Australia. The event was memorable for Dr Baloch as it also marked the 50th anniversary of the World Federation of Public Health Associations. Hosting over 2,000 world delegates, the congress brought professionals together from interdisciplinary fields that are committed to public health. The event allowed international communities to come together and exchange knowledge and experiences on essential public health issues, ultimately contributing to the identification of key priority public health areas on a national and global level. Dr Baloch and Dr Armstrong co-presented on collaborative efforts in Pakistan to drive better health outcomes for children living with NCDs and other chronic health conditions.

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The next stop for Dr Baloch was a special meeting with members of the Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) Support Group Australia (CAHSGA). Dr Baloch and members were able to openly discuss CAH survivors in Australia and Pakistan. CAHSGA provides support for individuals living with CAH by hosting club meetings that bring the community together. Dr Baloch intends to take all she has learned from CAHSGA and replicate its activities for the members of CLIP, an organisation dedicated to supporting individuals living with CAH in Pakistan.

Dr Baloch also met with Polio Australia, meeting with its key members in Kew, Melbourne and Parramatta in Sydney. The organisation was established by polio survivors in Australia and aims to facilitate and empower the polio community. Since Australia was declared a Polio free region in 2000, the main focus of Polio Australia is to help manage post-polio symptoms. Dr Rabia is working towards establishing Polio Pakistan to be of service to the polio community of Pakistan.

During her visit, Dr Baloch had the opportunity to meet with the Australian Pakistani Medical Association in Sydney. CLAN and APMA NSW have recently formed a coalition with the hopes of working together to improve the health care of underprivileged people in Pakistan. The meeting included discussions of future plans and a proposal on community development for children living with NCDs in Pakistan. In light of the presence of the Honorary Consul General of Pakistan, there was a discussion regarding the issue of access and availability of medicines for individuals living with CAH in Pakistan.

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Dr Baloch’s visit continued at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Victoria. Dr. Baloch met with physiotherapist Claire Formby. Ms Formby plays an integral role at the hospital’s Polio Clinics. Polio Services Victoria was established under the principle of providing the best possible treatment for Polio survivors. Dr Baloch and Ms Formby engaged in an open discussion about the daily issues Polio survivors in Pakistan face. Ms Formby was highly optimistic about treatment of polio survivors in Pakistan and expressed a desire to support the development of a training program for physiotherapists in Pakistan.

Whilst in Sydney, Dr Baloch met with Clinical Nursing consultant, Irene Mitchelhill at Sydney Children’s Hospital in Randwick, NSW. Ms Mitchelhill has successfully provided hands on experience by holding injection sessions at CAH family conference days. Ms Mitchelhill has also introduced CAH Peptalk videos, translated into multiple languages for patients and families around the world. Ms Mitchelhill is currently in the process of developing an Urdu translation to further support the CAH community in Pakistan.

Continuing her journey through New South Wales, Dr Baloch visited the office of Diabetes NSW. The organisation works towards the management and treatment of people living with diabetes in Australia. The organisation is also supportive of the International Diabetes Federation’s Life for a Child Program with connections in Pakistan, which is currently ranked 7th in the World Health Organisation’s diabetes prevalence list. With a rise in the incidence of Type 1 diabetes in Pakistan, the program is working towards its motto “No child should die of Diabetes”. Dr Baloch’s visit with Diabetes NSW was particularly special, as she has embarked on a research project with the General Manager of IDF Life and the IDF Life for a Child Program Dr Graham Ogle in hopes of identifying diabetes onset in childhood and youth.

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Dr Baloch’s next stop was at the Children’s Hospital in Westmead, Sydney. Dr Baloch was delighted to meet and chat with Dr Craig Munns. Dr Munns is the head of bone and mineral clinic, a clinic under the jurisdiction of the Endocrine clinic, working in conjunction with the departments of clinical genetics and orthopedic surgery. Dr Baloch also had the pleasure of meeting Dr Geoff Ambler who serves as a pediatric endocrinologist and is head of the Institute of Endocrinology and Diabetes at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead. Dr Ambler is also a clinical professor at the University of Sydney. The National Institute of Child Health is currently coordinating the translation of an educational resource co-authored by Dr Ambler, called  Caring for Diabetes in Children and Adolescents, so this visit was a great opportunity to meet in person and we thank the authors for giving permission for this translation to occur.

Dr. Baloch’s whirlwind trip concluded with a visit to the Ronald McDonald House at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead. The Ronald McDonald House is a not for profit organisation dedicated to providing guests with a hospitable place to stay during treatment. The house allows guests to provide one another with moral and emotional support while caring for their children. Dr Baloch was quick to notice the support and care the families receive throughout their stay.

Dr Baloch is incredibly grateful she had the opportunity to be exposed to the health sector of Australia. Dr Baloch would like to personally thank Rosalie Green, Claire Formby, Mary Ann Leithoff, Elizabeth Telford, Dr Afshan Mian, Justina Gorgievski, Gillian Thomas, Fatima, George and team, Lee Carpenter, Irene Mitchelhill, Erwin, Mrs Ghazala Khan, Dr Saeed Khan, Dr Arifeen, Dr Irfan Noor, Abdul Majid Yousfani, Subah Khan, Bin Moore, Dr Geoffrey Ambler, Dr Craig Munns for the incredible opportunity to further her professional development. 

An article by CLAN intern Stephanie Carde