About my journey to Tibb
Prof. Bhikha’s commitment to healthcare is evident in his continuous efforts of establishing an effective, affordable and accessible healthcare model. Starting off as a qualified pharmacist in 1969, he built up Be-Tabs Pharmaceuticals into the largest privately-owned generic manufacturer in South Africa.
His journey to Tibb and the establishment of the Ibn Sina Institute of Tibb is a heartfelt one. It began more than twenty-five years ago when his youngest daughter, experienced severe breathing difficulties. After a lung biopsy she was diagnosed with fibrosing alveolitis, requiring oxygen continuously.
This was a turning point and a catalyst for him to research different philosophies of healthcare including Ayurveda, Chinese medicine and more specifically Unani medicine. His choice of learning more about Unani medicine was based on its rich history over many centuries and the contribution of Hippocrates who established this system on the principles of cause and effect.
In 1994, to learn about Unani medicine Prof Bhikha met Hakim Mohamed Said, from Hamdard University, Pakistan, and arranged for a medical doctor and a primary healthcare nurse to attend an introductory course in this system. In 1999, in an arrangement with Hamdard University, Hakim Abdul Haq, a specialist in Unani philosophy joined the Institute in achieving its vision of promoting the practice and training of Unani medicine in South Africa.
The decision to choose the name Tibb came after much consideration. Over the centuries this system was called by many different names; Greco-Arab medicine, Western Herbal medicine, Unani-Tibb (‘Greek medicine’) and Unani medicine (Indian subcontinent). The name Tibb (the Arabic word for ‘medicine’) provides a differentiation from conventional/Western medicine and is in keeping with Prof Bhikha’s willingness to incorporate all medical knowledge in the form of integrative medicine.
Prof Bhikha’s contribution to the development in the promotion and practice of Tibb has earned him many awards including amongst others from Hamdard University (Pakistan), National Institute of Unani Medicine and Aligarh Muslim University (both from India). He was also awarded the Inyathelo Lifetime Philanthropy Award.
He remains committed to community upliftment and health provision focusing on primary healthcare, training of professionals, and research. He has presented academic papers worldwide and authored numerous books.