18 Nov

The Charlotte Observer: Shifa Free Health Clinic serves the uninsured


  • Shifa is the Arabic word for healing
  • Clinic open once a month to the uninsured below the poverty line, regardless of religious affiliation
  • Located at American Islamic Outreach Foundation on Shamrock Drive

A new health clinic at the American Islamic Outreach Foundation (AIOF) is offering free medical care once a month to people who don’t have insurance and who live below the poverty line.

The clinic was started in October after Raza Ulhaq, a Charlotte pharmacist, had noticed many people were coming to him for medical advice. He met many of them when he went to his local mosque for prayer.

SOURCE: The Charlotte Observer

“I try to help them as much as I can, but I’m not a medical doctor,” Ulhaq said. “Then I realized there is a need for a free health clinic.”

About a year ago, Ulhaq began talking to doctors and to AIOF representativesabout hosting the clinic at its large facility on Shamrock Drive.

The clinic is open to everyone regardless of their religious affiliation because one of the imperatives of Islam is to care for one’s neighbor, he said.

“Islam preaches that we should care for and help people regardless of race and religion,” Ulhaq said. “”It didn’t say, ‘Muslim neighbors.’ Islam said, ‘your neighbors.’”

The Shifa Free Health Clinic is open once a month on a Saturday. It is called Shifa after the Arabic word for healing.


Raza Ulhaq, Charlotte pharmacist

Eight doctors volunteer to provide free services at the clinic, and Ulhaq said he is taking with others who are interested in helping. Ulhaq serves as executive director, overseeing the clinic’s management and helping patients with questions about medications.

The clinic does not offer emergency care or specialized services such as children’s or prenatal care. It provides free health check ups and consultations, prescriptions and discounted lab work.

About 50 patients attended the first clinic in late October, Ulhaq said.

“Some hadn’t seen a doctor in more than a year,” he said. “It was so touching. They were very appreciative.”

As demand grows, Ulhaq plans to open it twice a month and more frequently if necessary, and he is continuing to recruit medical professionals and volunteers.

The clinic uses a wing of the AIOF facility, and for now doctors bring their own equipment. Ulhaq plans to soon begin buying equipment for the clinic.

The next clinic is scheduled to be held 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Nov. 21 at the AIOF, 4301 Shamrock Drive. No appointments are necessary, and all qualifying patients are invited.

Marty Minchin is a freelance writer: martyminchin@gmail.com.


For information, visit http://americanislamicoutreach.org or call 704-706-7856.

SOURCE: The Charlotte Observer

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