PESHAWAR: In order to better collect data about patients and to reduce the burden on tertiary care health facilities, the provincial government has launched the ‘Family Physician’ programme.
Launched on a pilot basis in two districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), the project will see a registered general physician operate at a rural health centre (RHC) or a basic health unit (BHU) at the union council level to treat patients.
The pilot project, which has been launched for six months initially, will be expanded to other districts based on the success of the project. A meeting in this regard concluded in Peshawar on Friday with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) country head attending the session.
Initially, according to health officials, the project was being launched in Swabi and Haripur.
Officials stated that the general physician will diagnose patients and prescribe medicines. Moreover, they will collect relevant data about the patients including family history.
Moreover, if the ‘Family Physician’ [FP] considers so, the patient can then be referred to a Tehsil or District Headquarters Hospital (DHQ) with the referral note mentioning reasons for referring the patients.
Based on a survey conducted by the government, it was determined that a family physician should be deployed for 5,000 people to meet universal health coverage standards adding. Moreover, they said that they had considered paying doctors an honorarium at their respective healthcare facilities.
In this regard, the Khyber Medical University (KMU) will strengthen newly established Family Medicine department at the Institute of Public Health in training existing general physicians from the pilot districts on family medicine.
Doctors completing the course will be provided with a diploma.
Meanwhile, representatives from Haripur and Swabi suggested that monitoring tools should be developed to implement the project. Moreover, they suggested the government’s health insurance scheme, the Sehat Sahulat Card, should be linked with the family practice initiative.
Moreover, a policy must be developed for public-private partnerships to enhance service delivery.
They further agreed that community leaders, including clerics and key stakeholders, should be told about the family physician approach through awareness sessions about the registration and mapping facilities so that patients do not feel strange when they visit the BHUs or RHCs.
Further, proper desks should be established for referral cases apart from setting up a mechanism devised for feedback [compulsory] where the patients were referred to besides ensuring availability of minimum health service package in target facilities
K-P Health Secretary Abid Majeed stated the provincial health department will own family practice for the wellbeing of the general public, adding that they intend to conduct workshops. For this purpose, planning meetings should be held so that both K-P and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) develop.
“Health sector across the globe was meant to minimise the out-of-pocket expenditure of the people [on health],” he said, adding that diseases if dealt properly at the primary level, will not only save time and money but will also lessen the burden on major health facilities.
WHO Pakistan head Dr Assai Ardakani appreciated the idea, noting that authorities will be amazed to see the indicators once the project is implemented across the country.
KMU Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Arshad Javed assured the university’s support to the project.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2018.