There are many unsung heroes in our world who work tirelessly to better the lives of people besides themselves. One of these people is Dr. Iftikher Mahmood, who, for the last 15 years, has quietly been improving the health of countless women in need who would otherwise be forgotten.
Dr. Mahmood was born in southern Bangladesh in Cox’s Bazar, a region of the country where 9 in 10 women deliver their babies at home without access to a trained medical professional. Today, he lives in Miami, Florida, where he is a pediatrician. But he always knew he wanted to do something to help those who needed medical care in his home country.
So, in 1999, he rented a facility that he turned into a one-room outpatient clinic, putting his own money and energy into his dream before asking anyone else to join him. After these humble beginnings, support from the Bangladeshi community in southern Florida and across the US helped him raise funds in 2005 to build what is today HOPE Hospital: a 40-bed charitable hospital with eight rural medical centers, a training center for midwives, and a strong network of grassroots-based staff and volunteers who implement localized solutions for identifying and referring women for treatment of fistula and other obstetric complications.
It was through these volunteers that Dr. Mahmood began to hear that many women were suffering from obstetric fistula. He approached Fistula Foundation for support, and we have been proud to help fund HOPE’s fistula program in Cox’s Bazar since 2010. Perhaps most notably, Fistula Foundation was able to fund the hospital’s gynecologist, Dr. Nrinmoy Biswas, as one of the first global candidates to undergo training through the FIGO (International Organization of Gynecologists and Obstetricians) Global Competency-Based Training Program for fistula surgeons. Dr. Biswas traveled to Ethiopia for surgical training under renowned fistula surgeon Dr. Mulu Muleta, and he and his team are now able to treat nearly 100 women affected by fistula each year.
“HOPE Foundation is the love of my life. It is a dream come true. I have dreamt all my life to get myself engaged in helping others, especially destitute, underprivileged people. When I was going to medical school, that’s all I was dreaming of – to come back and help,” Dr. Mahmood
And help he has. To date, an astounding 400,000 people have received services through HOPE Hospital. It today remains the sole provider of free fistula surgeries in the southern part of the country, and we are proud to continue supporting this incredible work to help the women of Bangladesh access the treatment they need and deserve.