By Shabbir Hussain
ISLAMABAD, May 15 (Alliance News): Public-Private partnership for rendering quality health care services in far flung areas of the country is look more imperative and a way forward to establish more sustainable and strong society.
These remarks were expressed by the Director Operation MERF (Medical Emergency Resilience Foundation Pakistan) Syed Ghalib in an exclusive interview with Diplomatic Star.
He said that Pakistan amongst the countries where public health services is not enough to cater the demands of fast grow population, ultimately the people left unattended and their minor diseases which leads to chronic ones and later in stages turn into disease, like cirrhosis, cancer and causes of death.
Syed Ghalib said the country health care system demands the availability of rapid diagnostic tests and cost effective DAA (direct-acting antiviral) tablets that would revolutionize the treatment process, such as Hepatitis C screening and treatment etc.
Currently, as we know, he said that the government of Pakistan is committed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for eradicating poverty, providing health and education facilities, ensuring gender equality and combating HIV by 2030 in partnership with the World Health Organization and the World Bank.
Syed Ghalib emphasized that to meet the challenges of globalization and achieving a prosperous Pakistan in the 21st century we need to promote and practice PPP in providing health care services to improve the health status of our society.
Replying to a question about the alarming increase here in cases of TB and HIV, he said that the rising number of TB and HIV cases in Pakistan loudly demands stronger collaboration with the private healthcare services to tackle TB-HIV co-infection.
Today, the world has acknowledged the importance of Public Private Partnership (PPP) in health care system and its effectiveness in providing health services to the people, he remarked.
To another query about the hurdle and challenges to adopt this system, Syed Ghalib said
that PPP are considered to be a successful model of health reform in the health sector of many countries, but in Pakistan policy formulation is so efficient and well directed to bring country health sector on international levels, while, he said the implementation of various components of health sector programme is always a big challenge due to certain reason, including establishing norms, tackling morality and accountability issues, building a legislative framework, defining operational strategies, as well as safeguarding the Consumer Protection Act to safeguard the interest of consumers.
Explaining in details the impacts of PPP, Syed Ghalib said that PPP are to create a financially sustainable system, capacity reform and management reform in the public–private sector which may lead to increased health care delivery and utilization, preventing unintended outcomes of private sector growth in health, control health care costs.
Replying to another question about MERF’s relief and health services, Syed Ghalib said that MERF aims to improve access to quality health care services which are equitable, efficient and affordable in collaboration with governments, international organizations and private entities.
He said it also provides services in health care delivery, capacity building of health workers, heath care governance, supply chain management, health management information system and health care policy and planning in order to positively contribute to the health status of the population.
He said the main objectives of the organization are saving lives by providing effective, efficient and affordable healthcare in resource poor settings.
Two outreach workers tapped patient details into the National Immunization Management System (NIMS) and making registration slip confirming which vaccine was due, which dose were the major contributions of MERF’s in COVID-19, he said.
He informed that through the generous funding from International Medical Corps (IMC) and FedEx with support from KP provincial government MERF is contributing to create herd immunity in the capital of province.
Over 50000 people are vaccinated under this program in communities, Covid 19 Vaccination Center (CVC), educational institutions and other locations including super crowded bus terminals in district, he added.
Syed Ghalib informed that MERF has outreached communities across Peshawar district through the program and estimated target of one hundred thousand people through this timely intervention under the mission to vaccinate Pakistan against Covid 19.
To another question about foreign donors, Syed Ghalib said that under the UNICEF funded program MERF will identify and strengthen the existing community-based entities and will engage them with stakeholders engaged in immunization at both Union Council and district level for effective community engagement and community
He said that MERF will develop evidence-based plans for each target union council focusing on gender equality, health systems strengthening and capacity building in order create convergence for enhancement of vaccination coverages.
MERF will also disseminate key messages on COVID 19 preventive measures and SOPs during ACSM interventions, he added.
To another query about policy reforms and government participations to fund such projects, Syed Ghalib said the welfare projects always demands out rapid social mapping/profiling to assess and address social and behavioral issues in target districts and use the information for evidence-based planning and implementation of community engagement interventions.
He said that the Human Resource engaged in social mobilization and community outreach for improved uptake of the essential health facilities including immunization at both district and union council levels will work in close coordination with department of health and community level influencers.
He said awareness is most significant part of MERF through IEC material placement and dissemination, Public Service Announcements (PSAs), social networks like WhatsApp, for effecting social change in target union councils.
Replying to another question posed by the journalist about current PPP situation in the country and where MERF is playing vital role in rendering health services, Director Operations MERF Syed Ghalib said that the Government of KP through KP health department and KP Heath Foundation has taken the initiative of Health System Strengthening (HSS) by engaging private sector organization on public private partnership basis in NMDs.
In this regard, five hospitals in District Orakzai, Kurram, Mohmand and South Waziristan has been outsourced to MERF with responsibility of operationalization, management and provision of secondary health services to the general public. The hospitals include:
DHQ Mishti Mela, Orakzai – Awarded in 2017
Cat. D Hospital, Ghiljo, Orakzai – Awarded in 2020
Cat D Hospital, Dogar, Kurram– Awarded in 2020
Cat D Hospital, Momad Gat, Mohmand – Awarded in 2020
Cat D Hospital, Mola Khan Sarai, South Waziristan – Awarded in 2020
He said that the MERF has made all the hospitals fully functional and providing free of cost services including general and specialized OPD services, IPD services (Surgical, Medical, Pediatrics, Gynecology & Eye), A&E Services, OT services, Labor rooms, Diagnostic services, pharmacy and EPI services
To another question, He said that in order to meet the shortage of female health workforce in (erstwhile) FATA, MERF under its skills development program with support from FATA-DA is implementing a 04 years nursing program recognized by Pakistan Nursing Council for FATA women.
Under this program, he said that 100 female students (Fata residents) were selected who are now undergoing a 04 years nursing program. The program will be completed in September 2020 and would provide much needed health workforce in the region.
Syed Ghalib explain that MERF responded to ECHO HIP 2016 call and was awarded contract as implementing partner of Malteser International to provide health and nutrition services to TDPs and host population of KP including Newly Merged Districts.
He informed that under the project, MERF provided Primary Healthcare Services with a focus on maternal, newborn and child health in 15 HFs and CMAM Services (Screening, SFP, OTP & referrals to SC) in 09 HFs of KP. The project was successfully completed in December 2017.