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January 13, 2018

23 posts vacant at Institute of Public Health for many years


January 13, 2018

LAHORE: The Institute of Public Health (IPH), Lahore, critically lacks in teaching faculty as 23 senior faculty posts, including seven posts of professors, have been lying vacant for a long time.

Seven sanctioned posts of professors and eight each of associate professors and assistant professors have been vacant for years in this oldest seat of training for public health specialists in the country.

The Specialised Healthcare and Medical Education Department has remained biased towards Institute of Public Health, is imparting training in Masters in Public Health (MPH), Masters in Maternal & Child Health (MMCH), Masters in Hospital Management (MHM) and MPhil, MCPS and FCPS in 13 sub-specialties in public health.

The Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) has stripped IPH of running MHM course due to the shortage of faculty. There is only one professor in the existing faculty at IPH, while demonstrators are teaching students of MPhil, MPH, MHA, MMCH, MHM, FCPS and MCPS Community Medicine and all postgraduate courses in public health. “The Institute is running the risk of losing its recognition by the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council,” feared the faculty members and students of IPH.

The Institute of Public Health critically lacks in teaching faculty as there are more than eight posts of professors out of which only Professor of Nutrition was working while posts of Professor of Mother and Child Health, Bacteriology, Epidemiology, Public Health, Statistics, Health Education, Dentistry, Occupational Health, Environmental Health are lying vacant.

Despite such a critical shortage of faculty, the Punjab government had recently transferred Prof Zarfishan Tahir, Professor of Bacteriology, IPH, and posted in Punjab TB Control Programme, as Health Department seemed least bothered in the face of fast deterioration of the institution.

The students, currently at the mercy of demonstrators, have demanded that Prof Zarfishan Tahir should be posted back at IPH and remaining posts of senior faculty members should be filled on priority; otherwise, it will lead to destruction of the institution and dearth of public health specialists in the province.

The faculty members and students have also expressed reservations over appointment of a person to look after the post of Dean of the institute, which was also not helping in improving the academic environment in the institution. “The public health experts/specialists are reluctant to join IPH faculty under the control of the incumbent,” they informed.

They regretted that IPH was fast losing its reputation among medical and dental graduates due to health authorities’ disinterest in completing the faculty.

“Doctors doing post-graduation in different sub-specialties are worried about credibility of degrees when trained by demonstrators instead of the senior faculty,” they lamented and maintained that the prevailing situation would cause young doctors to go for other options that will ultimately lead to dearth of experts in the important field of Community Medicine and other public health fields.

They recalled that the doctors trained in the past at IPH were lucky to get training under the supervision of seasoned and senior faculty, and were adding new dimensions to public health programmes. “If Punjab government and authorities of Specialised Healthcare and Medical Education do not focus on improving the affairs at IPH, the country will lose a premier institute and cause dearth of specialists of public health and community medicine,” the faculty and students observed.

Secretary SHC&ME Najam Ahmad Shah said that the plan to revamp Institute of Public Health has been prepared and it will be announced next week. “The plan envisages IPH dovetailing with Punjab Public Health Agency,” he said, adding that the issue of shortage of faculty will be resolved.

To a question regarding regular appointment on Dean’s post, he said the incumbent, who is holding the look after charge of the post, was delivering well and was fully qualified and competent enough to be appointed on regular basis too, but the decision in this regard will be taken as per revamp plan of the institution.

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