KARACHI: The Chief Executive Officer of the Sindh Healthcare Commission, Dr Minhaj Qidwai, stated that quackery is a national issue and is not confined to any specific province.
This he said while addressing a press conference along with the Chief Executive Officer of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Healthcare Commission (HCC), Azar Sardar, and the Director of Licensing & Accreditation of the Punjab Healthcare Commission, Anwar Janjua, at a local hotel in Karachi. The media briefing was held after the regulatory affairs meeting of the health regulatory bodies organized by the Sindh Healthcare Commission.
Dr Minhaj Qidwai said that the aim behind organizing the first regulatory affairs meeting in Karachi was to discuss national health issues with all stakeholders and devise a national level comprehensive strategy to eliminate quackery from all over the country. He informed that the SHCC had taken the lead in organizing the first meeting. In the meeting, the healthcare commissions of other provinces and all of Pakistan’s healthcare regulatory bodies sit together to appraise the issues faced by the provincial Healthcare Commissions (HCCS’).
Eminent leaders from the healthcare sector attended the meeting. These included Dr Maha Talaat, Regional Advisor, Anti-microbial Resistance Infection Prevention & Control (WHO), Fozia Mushtaq, Registrar, Pakistan Nursing Council, Dr Amir Khan Jogezai, Founder, HELP Balochistan, Dr Najam us Saqib, Additional Director, DRAP, Fahmida Iqbal, Senior Advisor, UNAIDS, Prof Iqbal Afridi JPMC/JSMU, Dean & Chairman, Tanwir Ahmed, Member, Pharmacy Council of Pakistan, Ms Mehmooda, Secretary-General, MAP , Dr Tipu Sultan, former Chairperson, SHCC, and Hakim Sirajuddin, Member, National Council of Tibb.
The meeting discussed issues which are currently faced by the provincial healthcare commissions and needed to be addressed to streamline the procedures for establishing quality in the provision of healthcare services with the regulatory councils, i.e. PMDC, PNC, DRAP, NTC, NHC, etc.
There is also a need to define the scope of work of non-regulated healthcare organizations such as the Sindh Medical Faculty, Electro-homeopathy, Allied Council of Pakistan, and the Complementary and Alternative systems of Medicines (CAM).
Other issues that were also discussed included mal-practice of healthcare providers, which are jeopardizing the healthcare system even more. These include qualified doctors giving their degree on rent, doctors practising beyond the scope, government doctors working simultaneously in private hospitals, dispensers running public healthcare facilities, and much more.
Dr Tipu Sultan, former Chairperson, SHCC, emphasized on the need to make these regulatory bodies corruption free and said that these bodies were formed as autonomous bodies and should be able to perform their functions without any interference from the government and other entities.
Dr Minhaj Qidwai, CEO, SHCC, proposed the constitution of a National Regulatory Council which was agreed upon and appreciated by all the attendees.
Director, Anti-Quackery, SHCC, Dr Ayaz Mustafa, shared a three-tier anti-quackery strategy for further harmonization and uniformity at provincial cum national level.
Dr Maha Talaat, Regional Advisor, Anti-Microbial Resistance Infection Prevention & Control (WHO), while addressing the meeting, said that an Infection Prevention Control program needs to be incorporated into the current scope of the Healthcare Commissions of Pakistan. In Pakistan, 10% of the patients who undergo surgeries get infections after those surgeries.
Dr Maha emphasized that without any IPC program, infectious diseases like AIDS, Hepatitis C, and other infections may not be controlled in Pakistan. Provision of supplies such as gloves and masks are necessities but are unavailable in hospitals, especially in rural areas hospitals.
It was also discussed in the meeting that proper price control measures must be taken to regulate the prices of various healthcare services.
Regulations must be introduced for e-Health and online pharmacies, whereas some acts such as the Sindh Emergency Procurement Act of 2014, Sindh Regulation and Control of Disposable Syringes Act 2010 of Sindh, Act No. IV of 2011 were made, but no implementation has been observed so far.
In the end, suggestions were made by the participants for improving regulations and legislation regarding healthcare services in Pakistan.