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PHC facilities must for every medical, dental college: PMDC

By M Waqar Bhatti
December 20, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) has made it mandatory for all medical and dental colleges in the country to establish or adopt at least five primary healthcare (PHC) facilities.

The medical and dental colleges will also introduce the subject of family medicine and primary healthcare developed by the PMDC, and by recruiting appropriate faculty, former Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) Dr Zafar said.

The Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) building. — APP File
The Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) building. — APP File

Dr Zafar was addressing the inaugural ceremony of training to pediatricians and neonatologists here on Tuesday.

PMDC has asked the medical and dental colleges to volunteer for establishing primary healthcare facilities. “Reducing maternal and infant mortality is not possible without promoting primary healthcare in Pakistan”, Dr Zafar Mirza told the ceremony.

The training was being organised by Ministry of National Health Services, Unicef, World Health Organisation (WHO) and Pakistan Pediatric Association (PPA) on “National Guidelines for Small and Sick Newborn Care”. Some 30 experts from Shifa International Hospital Islamabad, Akber Niazi Teaching Hospital, Maroof International Hospital, Kalsoom Hospital, Ali Medical Hospital, Quaid-e-Azam Hospital, PAF Fazaia Hospital, Alkhidmat RAAZI Hospital Rawalpindi and PIMS Islamabad attended.

Dr Zafar said PMDC will play an active role in embedding PHC education, training and services in medical and dental colleges.

“PMDC has also decided to establish a Family – Medicine and PHC expert committee – to develop the scope and curriculum to be implemented by the medical and dental colleges”, he informed.

Currently, medical graduates don’t go to primary healthcare facilities and have no orientation of health issues being faced by the people, he deplored.

Dr Mirza maintained the public health sector has realised it could not deliver and manage public health crisis alone in Pakistan. Neonatal mortality is one of the biggest challenges in mother and child healthcare, he said.

“Neonatal mortality is making Pakistan most notorious in the world. Among 194 UN member countries, Pakistan has the highest neonatal mortality rate. We are the highest contributor to premature preventable deaths of our children”, he observed.

It reflects the ills, chronic weaknesses and fundamental issues in our polity, economics, sociology, anthropology which contribute to neonatal mortality, he said.

Neonatal mortality rate of Pakistan is equal to South Sudan, one of the poorest nations in the world, he said. National guidelines prepared by the partner organisations must be implemented to save lives of infants, he advised.

Dr Samia Rizwan from Unicef deplored Pakistan is facing a challenging situation in terms of poor maternal newborn and child health indicators. Newborn mortality of Pakistan (42 per 1000 live births) is highest in the world, she told participants.

She said birth asphyxia, prematurity and sepsis constitute 90pc of causes of mortality for newborns. These deaths are preventable and provision of standardised quality care on time to newborns can help solve the problem, she added.

“The current pace of progress is insufficient to meet the national commitments for achieving SDG targets. Favourable policies and strategies are present, but their implementation is facing problems”, she noted.

Neonatologist Dr Ahmed Irfan Waheed said more than 70pc population seeks care from the private sector. “Engagement of private sector has become crucial for achieving desired results”, he noted.

He said objectives of the training are to impart standardised training to pediatricians serving in the private sector. The training will help them attain enhanced quality of care and improved outcome for the newborn health in Pakistan, he hoped.

The other objective is to set up a model of public private partnership in collaboration with key stakeholders for replication in the provinces and regions if found successful, he informed. The ceremony was also addressed by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Akbar Niazi Hospital Yasir Niazi. CEO of Islamabad Healthcare Regulatory Authority (IHRA) Dr Quaid Saeed and DHO Islamabad Dr Zaeem Zia were also present.