Who We Are

Summer 2008

The Second Mission to Pakistan, “The Road to Success”

On our first day in Lahore, Pakistan, the returning team of Montreal-graduate osteopaths Sylvie Erb, DOMP, Katia Isaac-Villette, DOMP, Faisal Naqvi, pDO, with the addition of Martin Foisy, pDO met with OWB students, Usmara Zafar and Haider Ali, to discuss the progress and future of our mission. The students shared their feelings and enthusiasm with us after a full year of studying. We reveled in their excitement and scholastic successes in their journey with Osteopathy.

The school our students attend, The Swiss International College of Osteopathy (SICO), has been very helpful in accommodating our student’s needs and ensuring their success. Usmara is most excited by the scientific roots of Osteopathy and is scoring high marks in her classes. Haider is excelling in his studies of cranial work.

Our students are serious in their studies and feel honored to have the opportunity to become the first Pakistani Osteopaths. They have been following in the spirit of OWB and giving treatments to low-income patients who couldn’t afford. They already have an excellent reputation as physiotherapists, and are now presenting osteopathy to their patients, some of whom I could treat and be confirmed in our confidence in their good work.

Usmara and Haider send their sincere thanks to all of you who have made their studies possible. Your generosity has provided the students with a successful first year at SICO.

Clinical Practice
The OWB team spent 2 weeks in Pakistan. Our time was divided between the cities of Lahore and Islamabad and the villages of Nagar and Hoper.

The students were able to accompany our OWB team during our week in Lahore. Haider worked with us at Sheik Zayed Hospital, where we had already worked last year, and Usmara helped us at Shauquat Khanum Memorial Hospital, where we broke new grounds, working in a cancer hospital. We split our days, spending mornings at Sheik Zayed Hospital and afternoons at Shauquat Khanum Memorial Hospital.

Our work at Sheik Zayed Hospital was a positive experience. Prof. Anwar Khan, Chairman, and Dr. Pervaiz Iqbal, Orthopedic Surgeon, welcomed us again and introduced us to the heads of the departments we worked at: Orthopedics, Gastro-Enterology, Pediatrics and Out-Patient PT. We chose patients in the wards who would benefit most from the one session we were able to give.

Friends of OWB in Lahore are Shauquat Khanum Cancer Memorial Hospital board members. We had a very good introduction but it took some persuasion for the doctors to believe that Osteopathy was safe and helpful for the very sick patients in their wards. We had some intense conversations, but as is always the case, experiencing it is the best way to know what Osteopathy is about. We informed the doctors and the CEO about the benefits of Osteopathy and let them experience the treatment. During our rounds on the fourth day we saw patients transformed – increased energy, improved ability to swallow and reduced swelling. In the future when our team is larger we could give second sessions to patients, which would greatly improve their outcome.

By the end of the first week, we headed to Islamabad to present Osteopathy to a team of Orthopedists at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), led by Prof. Abdul Mateen, a friend of Dr. Pervaiz Iqbal. We presented to a group of about 20 very open-minded Orthopedic Residents. We could demonstrate the positive effects of Osteopathy on two doctors suffering from chronic sinus infections and migraines, and two post-trauma in-patients.


We met with Prince Barkat Ali of Nagar who recently returned to Pakistan after recently retiring from diplomatic service. He is now using his experience to help the advancement of his homeland, which has been forgotten by modern progress. He helped us get organized so we could have the best working conditions. Roads, schools, hygiene, water supply and medical assistance for the people in the valley are severely lacking. We worked 3 days in Nagar itself, and 1.5 day in Hoper, a village higher up even less developed. We treated over 130 people, children and young adults mostly, who benefit most from single sessions. We treated all types of conditions, mostly of internal medicine, lots of diarrhea, pneumonia, all types of gastro-intestinal problems, sequellea of traumas, migraines, epilepsy, development delays, psychiatric cases, and of course musculo-skeletal disorders. The patients were surprised to see us spend one hour without dispensing any drugs. By the 3rd day in Nagar, the word of the “miraculous” effects of the treatments had gone around and people were then enthusiastic, and we were not able to see all those who seeked treatment.

The villagers have a tradition of flattening the back of the head of babies to make them more beautiful. This stiffens any strains that would already exist from birth. If any trauma happens later on, the compression of the foramen allowing the passage of the cranial nerves weakens greatly the ability to heal. Repeat visits to these villages each year are vital in changing this head flattening tradition. Faisal treated a one-month-old baby who had had an episode of stopped breathing. During the treatment, the parents could see how the nasal passages were opening up, and the father, now trusting advise of the therapist, threw in the garbage, the material used to flatten the head.

Data was collected on all treated patients. This data is highly valuable, as it will be used in functional outcome research studies. We’ll refine our follow-up as we go along, so that we can use the data to enable OWB to present the high-success, cost-effectiveness of osteopathy as part of the public health-care measures. This data paves the way for Osteopathy in Pakistan as it contributes to the advancement of Osteopathy throughout the world.

We again had a very rewarding mission, bringing a new form of medicine to a country in great need of improvement in its health-care system. It is a country where most people don’t have easy access to doctors, and often cannot afford the medication they are prescribed. When our two students graduate, they will become teacher-assistants, then teachers of a Pakistani osteopathic school. Once patients and health-care professionals know about the benefits of Osteopathy we can imagine a system that will bring people to a greater level of health for much lesser cost.

If you want to help us reach our goals, please visit our Support Our Work page.

Thank you for your support and interest,
Sylvie Erb, PT, DOMP