Fixing it up: Capital hospitals to function under ‘uniform command’

New policy will see doctors rotated between main city, peri-urban areas.


Mariam Shafqat June 07, 2015
The agenda is to bring all the health units and hospitals in the capital territory under a uniform command system in an attempt to establish a ‘Model Health System’. PHOTO AFP

ISLAMABAD: Working over a directive issued by Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal, the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination is drafting a policy that will suggest health reforms to regularise infrastructure in the capital.

The agenda is to bring all the health units and hospitals in the capital territory under a uniform command system in an attempt to establish a ‘Model Health System’ in Islamabad, NHSRC Director Programmes Dr Malik Muhammad Safi told The Express Tribune.

“Right now the system is fragmented. For example, Polyclinic Hospital falls under the Capital Administration and Development Division, whereas the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Administration is responsible for hospitals and health units located in peri-urban areas around the city”, he explained.

This, according to him, “has left the flow of command and services quite confusing and at places ineffective”.

Resultantly there is no proper referral system for patients. He cites lack of rotation in duties of doctors and other paramedic staff as one of the main issues that causes problems for people living in the outskirts of the capital.

Safi then stressed the need to deploy more Lady Health Workers (LHWs), health visitors and doctors to deploy at each and every health facility. “In this scenario it is imperative that these LHWs and doctors are posted at Basic Health Units located in rural areas and are rotated time and again, but so far nothing is being done in this regard”.

He added that a proper mechanisim should be put in place for doctors that rotates them between the main city area and peri-urban areas.

According to the director, lack of this mechanism forces patients from far off areas to travel to the main city for every medical issue which can be looked after at an Outdoor Patient Department (OPD) near their homes.

“Consequently, large hospitals like Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences are left overburdened and are unable to provide quality health service because few doctors are left to cater to an influx of so many patients in a limited time,” shared Safi.

Under the new health reforms suggested, hospitals will be occupied by relevant staff for rotation period of at least three months.

Among other problem areas, the ministry has also decided to establish a combined data collection system which is unregulated and fragmented too.

“Noori Hospital which is being run by the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission has its own independent data collection and storage mechanism and they are not bound by any system to share their knowledge with relevant departments,” he explained.

To implement these reforms, the ministry has suggested the formulation of an ‘Executive Board’ which will be an independent body and would function only under the ministry.

The board will be run by an executive director hired as a non-government official by the ministry, while its members would consist of individuals from civil society and officials from executive boards of rural and urban hospitals.

“Budget and infrastructure policy directions will be sent by the ministry but in order to ensure impartial functioning, it will largely remain an independent body,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 8th, 2015. 

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