During a time when we’re really learning to appreciate the role played by healthcare professionals, one Pakistani woman is making us even more proud. Gulnaz Tariq is the first woman president of the World Union for Wound Healing Sciences (WUWHS).
But that’s not all. She also made history as the first nurse to become President of WUWHS. The global body elects a president every five years. In 2020, Gulnaz Tariq became the first female and nurse to take on the position.
“I became the first female and nurse president of this world union, which was never the case before. We made history because always it is a doctor and male who is (elected) the president for the past five conferences and (over) 20 years.”
What is the World Union for Wound Healing Sciences?
WUWHS brings together experts in wound healing sciences from all across the world. Wound Healing Sciences is the extensive studies of wound healing techniques, medication, and more related disciplines.
To put it in simple language, this field of scientific study is why we no longer have to amputate and cauterize wounds. In fact, thanks to wound healing sciences, we now have developed techniques to even reduce scarring from the healing process.
Like many other organizations, there are not many women in WUWHS. Given this backdrop, it is indeed impressive that a Pakistani woman got elected its president. This is a testament to her work and effort over the years in this field.
So how exactly did this Pakistani woman make history? Given all her research publications and her role as a medical practitioner, educator, and researcher, she was a strong contender.
What does Gulnaz Tariq Do?
Gulnaz works with millions of international Wound Healing Sciences experts worldwide. Their job? To help study the best ways to heal wounds.
She’s the founder of the International Interprofessional Wounds Care Group (IIWCG). IIWCG collects data on wound healing practices across the globe. It then makes that data available for the use of medical professionals. IIWCG also has research journals like WCET Journal
“Every year now we have conferences under this umbrella and we have our own journal which is WCET Journal (World Council of Enterostomal Therapy)”
Gulnaz also founded the Ostomy Care and Management (OCM). Her work has been recognized by the World Council of Enterostomal Therapists. She even co-authored the Chronic Wound Care textbook.
Gulnaz Tariq Mir’s significant research studies discuss the best techniques for faster healing with less scarring; early identification and prevention of surgical wound complications. Most importantly, her work on the wound healing treatment for diabetics has made a mark.
She introduced a diabetic foot prevention program and a pressure injury prevention program.
She even serves as OCM’s director and a Regional Director for ISTAP.
Bringing Her Expertise to Pakistan
Now you must be wondering how is this talented professional such a long way from home?
Gulnaz got her nursing degree from Pakistan back in 1982. She went on to perfect her trade in various institutions across the world.
She became quite famous given her research and work overseas. Armed with a desire to serve her country, she came back to Pakistan. Unfortunately, due to bureaucratic red tape and technicalities, her sojourn was cut short. Even though she’s by all intents and purpose, a qualified medical professional, she was dismissed over a minor technicality – her title as a ‘nurse.’ She was not taken seriously by the powers that be.
“I was told doctors and nurses are different populations.”
Even with those setbacks she experienced, Gulnaz Tariq wishes to upgrade Pakistan’s healthcare system. However, she faces issues from existing lobbies who rely on archaic rules even now.
“I wish could do anything for my country whenever I get a chance, so I’m very optimistic. Having said that I really feel there’s a lot of work to be done in the nursing side because the morale of nurses. And nursing is not that acknowledged even today.”
She believes education is the key to changing attitudes.
“Education really makes a big difference here. What I have seen (in Pakistan), I’ve visited a few places the person in a key post in nursing but what I’ve seen is the person sitting in front of you has no idea what quality nursing is. And I feel so sorry about that,”
Gulnaz explains how the country needs to start by acknowledging how nursing is in the healthcare system. Without investing in the backbone of the medicare sector won’t progress.
“Yet I think better time is coming because nurses are the backbone of any healthcare facility or any healthcare system”
Gulnaz still hopes to return one day and bring her expertise as a medical practitioner and educator to Pakistan.
“Being here (in UAE) for 35 years I really feel like this is the year I have to go to Pakistan and then help my countrymen to bring the system up.”