Physicians Honor Their Heritage, Heal Others

Reporter: Shannon Sampson

Web Producer: Jason Bailey

The Independent Center for Immigrant Studies reports one-in-five physicians in this country were born outside the United States.

A great number of foreign doctors in this area are Muslims from places like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. Many are part of a group whose mission it is to serve the public.

Pediatrician Mohammad Hussain says he could have a similar income and lifestyle practicing medicine in his native Pakistan but the high demand for doctors in the U.S. was just too appealing.

The center for immigration studies says physicians have the highest foreign-born proportion of any profession in the nation.

Hussain, m.d. says, "That's the beauty of this country, that you can get the talent from all over the world and benefit and not only benefit our country here, but benefit the world."

Hussain has lived in Evansville since 1981, and says the Muslim community has had exceptional relations with members of other religions in the area with one exception.

As in many communities, tensions ran high after September 11, 2001. Many muslims across the country were met with violence. In Evansville, someone actually crashed a car into the Islamic Center.

Hussain says it's not that incident he chooses to remember, rather it's what happened afterwards.

"But what really happened is that we had this massive outpouring of messages and flowers and good wishes and sympathy and that kind of outdid whatever happened that night," says Hussain.

Hussain and about fifty other health professionals and members of the Islamic Center decided three years ago they could do more to serve the community that's welcomed them.

They formed the Tri-state American Muslim Physicians Association (TAMPA), and last year held their first health fair at Eastland Mall.

They screened hundreds of patients for diseases such as stroke, hypertension, osteoporosis and diabetes.

The goal of TAMPA is to hold more events like these and perhaps eventually set up a clinic to serve the uninsured.

TAMPA's second annual health fair is this Saturday at Eastland Mall from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is free and everyone is welcome. One of the focuses this year will be on pulmonary health. A respiratory therapist will be available.