Doctors’ representatives have slammed the government for not inviting them to a conference on healthcare reform that concluded on Wednesday.
The two-day conference brought together academics, professors, principals and vice chancellors, but representatives of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), the Young Doctors Association (YDA) and the Medical Teachers Association (MTA) were not invited.
A Health Department spokesman said that the conference focused on policy reform, so they only invited “senior doctors”. Several professors attended the conference, but the YDA and the PMA don’t have representatives above the level of assistant professor. The MTA has members who are professors and they participated in the event in a personal capacity, but none as representatives of the body.
“The government can’t implement any reforms without taking doctors on board,” said PMA General Secretary Dr Izhar Chaudhry. “It’s nice that they invited principals and vice chancellors, but they are government representatives.”
He said that the association was saddened that the government had not invited it to the conference, which showed its “undemocratic attitude”.
“At the end of the day, it is the young doctors working in public hospitals who will have to execute any new policy in the provision of healthcare,” said Dr Shabbir Chaudhry, the legal affairs head at the YDA. “Keeping us out of policy-making and the consultation process is undemocratic.”
An MTA office bearer said that no reforms would bear fruit until all stakeholders were taken on board. He condemned the government decision not to invite the MTA.
Speaking at the concluding ceremony, Health Minister Khalil Tahir Sindhu said that the presentations made at the conference had been “thought-provoking” and included “very important recommendations” for reform of the healthcare sector.
He stressed the need to clean up the drinking water supply, saying waterborne diseases accounted for 40 per cent of illnesses in Pakistan. “If we can provide clean drinking water, the load at hospitals will automatically fall by 40 per cent,” he said.
Speaking at the conference, Health Secretary Hassan Iqbal said that the event had been a great success thanks to the participation of experts from the economic and social sectors, medical teachers, health managers and international partners.
The healthcare system needed reform, he said, but the change would take some time “because human nature does not accept change easily ... various universities elsewhere in the world teach ‘change management’ as a special subject”.
Responding to a question, Iqbal said that the Health Department had asked the federal government to take prompt action against diphtheria in Sindh after a case of the disease was confirmed there.
The government did not want the disease to spread to the Punjab, as had happened with measles, resulting in an outbreak that has claimed hundreds of lives in the province.
To another question, the secretary said that private medical colleges and hospitals would be made to comply with the law. Private medical colleges must arrange house jobs for their graduates on their own or pay the Health Department to accommodate them in government hospitals.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2013.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ