Meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination was held under the convener of Senator Prof. Dr. Mehr Taj Roghani here at the Parliament House on Tuesday.
The committee offered Fateha for the high elevation of late Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan and paid rich tribute to the services rendered by the iconic hero and Mohsin-e-Pakistan
At the outset of the meeting Senator Prof. Dr. Mehr Taj Roghani informed the participants of the committee that Chairman Committee Dr. Muhammad Hamayun Momand is out of country and has therefore requested her to chair todays’ meeting. The chair took up agenda-wise points in the meeting.
The committee received a detailed briefing from the National Institute of Rehabilitation Management (NIRM), Islamabad on their functioning, performance and plans for further improvement was received by the committee.
While discussing the role and functions, the committee was informed that NIRM provides long term rehabilitation and treatment, but it is not an acute care facility and do not have an emergency cell. The committee raised question on whether or not an emergency department should been established in NIRM. The officials of the Ministry of National health Services, Regulation and Coordination said that emergency deals with the treatment of trauma. NIRM comes into play when a patient remains unstable after the emergency period. It was also added by the Ministry officials that there are other hospitals handling the emergency and the Institute should remain focused on rehabilitation. Senator Rubina Khalid also re-emphasized the fact that focus should be on rehabilitation, as it will play a vital role in saving the lives of the people.
Senator Khalida Ateeb inquired about the timings of the specialist attending the Hospital. It was observed by the committee that doctors visit the hospital between 09:00 am – 11:00 am, that too once a week. “How come they visit once a week when long queues of patients waiting to see them all day long?” said Senator Khalida Ateeb. The NIRM official showed resistance to answer this question. Senator Fawzia pointed out that the objective of raising such questions is to address the grievances of the people so the officials’ do not defend such questions. The Ministry officials as well as the officials of NIRM accepted the issue of timings of the specialist, and showed eagerness to probe into the matter
While taking briefing on the Radiology services provided by NIMS it was transpired that MRI facility, even in NIRM was nonfunctional “ The Helium dropped 3 days back”, the NIRM officials informed “the NIRM lacks MRI services that’s why due to over-load of work it is malfunctioning” they added. The Ministry was informed that the MRI machine was working since 1996, repair work on the machine has started and will take a weeks’ time for the machine to start functioning again. The NIRM officials also informed that PC-1 for fifteen new equipment has been approved, including an MRI machine. The deadline for the replacement of the MRI machine is 30-June 2022. It was inquired by the committee as to whether there was an emergency budget to cater such malfunctioning of machines. The committee members lamented as discussed in the previous meeting that the Federal Capital is deprived of an MRI in all the major hospitals including Polyclinic, PIMS and NIRM, which is not only a matter of disgrace but also a surprise for the residence of no other city but the Capital Islamabad.
The committee was also apprised that the NIRM offer services in speech therapy. The chair questioned on the number of speech therapist available to which the NIRM officials replied that there are total five qualified speech therapist.
While briefing on the role of social welfare department in protecting the disabled poor from catastrophic health expenditure the committee was informed that the Zakat funds are allocated annually to the tune of Rs/- 1.5 million. The committee was also informed that Pakistan Baitul Mal spent Millions annually to ease the suffering of disables patients at NIRM, to which the Chairman Committee objected and said that she personally know two people who demanded grant from the Bait-ul-mal on cochlear implant surgery and waited for years for its grant and finally became over age for the surgery. “They even lost a lot of their own money in the process” she dismayed.
The committee was briefed that NIRM has a total of 315 sanctioned strength. The Salary Structure of its employees is admissible in accordance with National Basic Pay Scale (BPS). Out of this 315 staff there are 163 gazetted BS -16 officers and above and 152 non gazetted from BS-01 to 15. The committee was also informed that in the year 2020-2021, there were 1151 indoor admission, 92184 outdoor patients and 1076 surgeries catered by the NIRM.
Senator Prof, Dr. Mehr Taj Roghani raised question on the difficulties faced by the students studying out of country especially in Central Asia and steps taken by the PMC to resolve their issues. The chair raised question on the change in university, within 06 months, by the Pakistan Medical Commission of those students who came through PMDC program, somewhere in the middle of their studies tenure, which has ruined the future of these students. The PMC officials informed the committee that total 63 universities are running the Central Asian Countries in category A B and C including Kyrgyzstan having 03 universities in category A and 08 universities in category C. The committee was informed that recently they received several students studying in Kyrgyzstan, that several Kyrgyz medical colleges were running parallel MBBS programs, 6 years MD programs and 5 Years MBBS programs. The 5 years MBBS programs were tailored specially for Pakistani and Indian Students; their classes are held online and the teachers were hired from Pakistan. Hospital training is the core element of MBBS training; since the training in the local hospitals was reported to be deficient, PMC had grave concerns about the quality of graduates returning to Pakistan to treat the Pakistani citizen. Hence further analysis and up gradation was halted temporarily in this regard. The committee was informed the Eurasian Medical University was taken off the PMC list since they received many complaints that the Pakistani Students there wanted to get transferred to a better university and the university was not granting the Pakistani Students their due transcripts. The committee was informed by the PMC officials that they have received the explanation letter as well as the President PMC met with the Ambassador of Kyrgyz Republic on 22 September 2021. The PMC is currently waiting for the response from the Kyrgyz authorities regarding the matter. The committee made recommendations that the matter must be taken to the Foreign Affairs Ministry to give relief to the students. The committee also gave recommendations that this issued be resolved at Government level, as the future of the students is at stake.
The committee also raised question on the Medical test Conducted by the PPMC on MD cat. The committee inquired that the misconduct in the test exam has caused depression and mental stress in the students who studied day in and day out for the test. “Simply saying that the students have the right to review and it was some computer generated mistake is not fair with the students” said Senator Rubina Khalid while showing resentment on the system of the PMC “It is not a game but, it is the future of the children, there is what guarantee that the marks will be given in a fair manner now” she added. It was informed that the test was conducted for 2 lakh students. The committee believed that the questionnaires should have been repeated over a span of 30 days and the questions must also have been leaked.
The committee also inquired name of the company who conducted the test, the officials informed that the test was conducted by “Teps Company”. The committee also asked question as to why the test was outsourced and sought report on its tender notice and short listing of companies.
The committee passed recommendations that the test may be re-conducted without any additional charges. The committee also passed recommendations to put to task those who were responsible for this misconduct of test.
The meeting was attended by Senator Fawzia Arshad, Sana Jamali, Rubina Khalid, and Senator Khalida Ateeb. Senior officials from the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination, DRAP, NIRM, and PIMS were also in attendance