Vol. 5 Num 1015 Mon. April 09, 2007  

Florence Nightingale of Dhaka
Documentary on Dr Zohra Kazi premiered

The premier show and VCD launching of the documentary on Dr Zohra Kazi was held on March 7 at the main auditorium, National Museum. Made by Mahbubul Alam Taru, the documentary was released under the banner of Jharna bioscope. Chief guest of the event was National Professor Dr Nurul Islam. Special guests were Professor Muzaffar Ahmad, chairman TIB and June Rollinson, director of British Council. Professor Syed Mudasser Ali presided over the event.

Ninety-six year old (though she claims to be 100) Dr Zohra Begum Kazi, known as the 'Florence Nightingale of Dhaka' is recognised as the first Bengali Muslim female doctor.

Taru's tribute to womanhood through Dr Zohra, zeroes in on her eventful life and medical career. In a sense she had a head start of her women contemporaries. Her father, late Dr Kazi Abdus Sattar was a renowned physician and a political personality of the subcontinent. He was a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhai Patel, among other eminent personalities.

Dr Zohra matriculated with distinction from Aligarh Muslim Ladies School. Subsequently she passed intermediate from Lady Hardinge Medical College, Delhi. From this college she bagged an MBBS degree in 1932. She was also honoured with the Viceroy's degree and is the only one to get an honorary Member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (MRCOG).

After her MBBS, Zohra worked for 13 years in several places of undivided India. Later she joined the Dhaka Medical College & Hospital (DMCH) and worked as a teacher and doctor. Here she took on the post of professor and head of the department of obstetrics and gynaecology. At the same time, she was also serving as honorary doctor at the Combined Military Hospital, Dhaka Cantonment. On her retirement from DMCH in 1973, she served as a consultant in Holy Family Hospital.

Her years at DMCH were an eye opener. Here she realised the plight of women patients who were ignorant of allopathic medicine and treatment and often succumbed to their ailments. Reluctant to seek outdoor medical assistance in male dominated hospitals, many took their last breath. To help out these suffering women, Zohra often used to visit them in their homes and persuade them to cast away their taboos and superstitions.

For her groundbreaking work, she won the Begum Rokeya Padak in 2002.

On February 21, Zohra organised emergency treatment for the leaders of the Language Movement and enabled them to go out safely. She also helped the Freedom Fighters in 1971.

To filmmaker Taru goes the credit for drawing out the initially reluctant Zohra over a course of seven months.

Dr Zohra Kazi (C) in a scene from the documentary