Islamabad:Affiliated with the Quaid-i-Azam University and with the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) providing attached hospital facilities, the Federal Medical and Dental College (FMDC) was inaugurated by Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani at a ceremony originally scheduled at PIMS, but subsequently shifted to the Prime Minister’s Secretariat here on Tuesday.
Lack of parking space spelled huge inconvenience for guests, who had to park their vehicles at a 15 to 20-minute walking distance from the venue and brave the scorching summer sun amidst the tightest of security hurdles before finally making it to the fortress of power. Many invitees preferred returning to their homes and offices on seeing the situation. All senior journalists and camera crew designated to cover the beat of the Prime Minister boycotted the ceremony as there was no sign of the PM till 6:00 p.m. even though guests were to be seated by 4:30 p.m.
The ceremony was attended by Minister for Health Riaz Pirzada, Minister of State for Health Sardar Shahjahan Yusuf, Secretary Health Nargis Sethi, project director of FMDC Dr. Jehanzeb Aurakzai, and executive director of PIMS Prof. Dr. Mehmood Jamal.
Addressing the gathering, the PM said the establishment of a medical college was a longstanding demand that merited attention in view of the immense pressure on the country’s existing medical institutions, given that a growing number of aspirants are aspiring for a career in medicine. “This is the first public sector medical college in the country with an affordable fee structure and medical education that will be at par with international standards,” he said.
The PM paid tributes to the leadership in the health sector-the Ministry of Health and doctors and health professionals of PIMS-who accomplished the task of establishing FMDC in the shortest possible time. He then recounted some of the key health initiatives taken by the government. These included establishment of the National Health Emergency and Response Network in the wake of the 2010 floods; incentivizing of medical services through implementation of an improved career structure for health care professionals; and provision of an integrated health facility to the residents of Bhara Kahu and rural areas of Islamabad. “We converted an almost non-functional health centre in Bhara Kahu to a quality mini-hospital where the people of the area are provided all major services under one roof. This has significantly reduced the burden on two major hospitals in the capital city while saving precious lives which were being lost while ferrying emergency cases from these areas to hospitals in urban areas,” the PM remarked.
Referring to the increasing number of cases of liver cirrhosis, the PM recounted the government’s efforts to establish the country’s first-ever liver transplant centre. Funds for the centre were provided by the government and work is now nearing completion. “This will be a life-saving facility for thousands of families who are unable to afford the expensive treatment for this life threatening condition,” he said. With reference to polio, the PM said the district administration has been made responsible for anti-polio activities, and that a policy of zero tolerance has been introduced for any official found wanting in his task.
Coming to FMDC, the gathering was informed that the first batch of the college would comprise 50 students. The college is currently housed in PIMS, but will soon be shifted to its designated premises in the National Institute of Health, where it will benefit from the institute’s available research base. An effort is said to have been made to ensure that only high quality trained medical professionals render instructional services in the college. State-of-the-art equipment and laboratories are being provided to train students so that they can compete both at home and abroad besides being equipped to provide top-quality medical services.
Nargis Sethi shared the plan to upgrade the NIH Hospital located in Chak Shahzad. “The hospital is to be operationalized and upgraded into a 50-bedded facility with treatment for all major ailments under the Integrated Health Services Initiative. When upgraded, the hospital will serve thousands of residents of Chak Shahzad, Banigala, Rawal Town, Tarlai and numerous adjoining areas of rural Islamabad,” she briefed.
Nargis requested the PM to direct the Ministry of Finance to release funds on a fast track basis so that the task can be completed. “No new construction will be involved and the entire upgrading and refurbishment would cost no more than Rs50 million,” she said. Responding to the request, the PM announced release of the said amount for the purpose.
With reference to FMDC, Nargis said that since the role of the medical professional extends beyond the four walls of the hospital, major emphasis is being placed on areas like disaster management, health emergency and community medicine. “This is the need of the hour as our nation is confronted with numerous man-made and natural calamities where better trained rescue and medical personnel can mean the difference between life and death,” she stated.
Earlier, Riaz Pirzada termed investing in the health and education of a nation as being synonymous to investing in its future. “We are making all out efforts to harness the potential of the huge mass of human resource available to the health sector. Specialised training programmes for on-job skill development of health personnel, promoting higher education for medical graduates, encouraging medical institutions in the private sector are an integral part of our policies,” he mentioned. He also informed that with the risk of floods looming large, systems at the National Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Cell have been geared up and fortified to meet any eventuality.The news.