Karachi: The Pakistan Medical Association believes that there is great scope of “medical tourism” between Saarc countries, especially India and Pakistan and the latter can benefit from the expertise of the doctors next door.
By Shahid Husain
Prof Dr M Idrees Adhi, an ophthalmologist and PMA leader, said Pakistan was on equal grounds in certain specialised fields, but could benefit from the specialists in India.
“It’s a method of collaboration. We need to strengthen research,” the healthcare expert told The News on Friday.
The PMA leader said the association would strongly resist the illegal business of kidney and liver transplants under way in Pakistan.
“Rich people from other countries come here to exploit the low-income strata of the population.”
PMA general secretary-elect Dr Mirza Ali Azhar said medical tourism between India and Pakistan had great potential.
“Pakistan cannot boast of competing with India in the area of liver transplant and dealing with cardiac ailments, but the potential does exist in here.”
Dr Azhar lamented that hospitals in Pakistan were ill-equipped and the policymakers lacked vision.
Prof Adhi said it was true that the efficacy of medicines manufactured by local pharmaceutical firms was as good as those manufactured by multinational companies, but the regulatory authority needed to be effective.
When asked if he agreed that an effort was being made by elements with vested interests to malign public sector hospitals and give the impression that private sector hospitals were better, Prof Adhi concurred.
“There is inherent corruption in our society. If we endeavour to contain corruption in the public sector hospitals, the allocated health budget can provide solace to a large chunk of low-income groups. But the health budget should be five or six percent of the GDP to ensure healthcare for the masses,” he said.
“We ask that the health commission bill be tabled the assembly and you, the media, can play a vital role in its implementation.”
Prof Adhi said he was aware that spurious drugs are being marketed in a big way.
“We claim to be human beings but we are acting like animals. The health commission bill has not addressed the issue of spurious drugs. There is a drug control authority at the national level but it needs to be improved.”
The professor said if a doctor operated on a patient, the hospital should be well-equipped.
“This will bring an end to quackery. Our people don’t know yet as to how much a doctor should be qualified.”
Dr Azhar said the PMA had a policy of zero tolerance when it came to corruption.
“The PMA is very much disturbed by the deterioration of medical education in Pakistan. We don’t have enough professors to teach basic medical sciences at our medical colleges but a plethora of new medical colleges are being opened in the country and Pakistan Medical and Dental Council is solely responsible for it. The system is headed towards a collapse,” he noted.
“Doctors are either being killed or kidnapped for ransom or receiving ‘parchis’ from extortionists; they are being harassed. A brain drain is going on. We will do our best to ensure security for doctors.
To a question, Dr Azhar said the PMA fully supported operation against terrorists and extortionists.
“With the help of the media, we will launch awareness campaigns and set up free medical camps at the Karachi Press Club and other press clubs across the country, focusing on the preventive side of healthcare.”
Earlier while addressing a news conference at the Karachi Press Club, Dr Azhar announced the results of the recently held elections of PMA which were held in Abbotabad, Karachi, Lahore and Quetta from January 10 to 13 with the permission of the Sindh High Court.
Following candidates were declared successful: Dr Aziz Ahmed Lehri (president), Dr Mirza Ali Azhar (secretary general) Dr SM Qaiser Sajjad (treasurer), Dr Shahid Shaukat Malik (joint secretary I), Dr M Aslam Khan Marwat (joint secretary II) and Dr M Idrees Adhi (chairman of the JPMA Editorial Board).