Primary Healthcare in Punjab


Date: June 1st, 2015

Venue: 60-H Gulberg III, Lahore

Time: 3:30 pm

Participants: Dr. Mizanur Rahman, (Assistant Professor of Community Health), Ms. Shireen Rahman (Senior Health Visitor and Trainer), Ms. Tamanna Dilruba (Senior Paramedic and Trainer), Ms. Anwara Begum Lucky (Senior Paramedic and Trainer), Ms. Arshi Ara Khondoker (Senior Paramedic and Trainer), Ms. Kohinoor Akhter Moyna (Senior Paramedic and Trainer), Dr. Abu Saleh Musa (Assistant Professor of Paediatrics), Maha Rehman, Mehreen Shahid, Mishael Imran (CERP), Zohra Sohail, Sahar Haq, Salman Khan (IDEAS), Sohaib Athar, Hina Shaikh, (IGC), Zara Salman (CDPR).

The Institute of Development and Economic Alternatives (IDEAS) in partnership with International Growth Centre (IGC) and the Center for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP) organized a talk under the umbrella of Consortium for Development Policy Research, with renowned Bengali health care strategist, Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury on his groundbreaking reform work in Bangladesh. The talk was chaired by IDEAS Senior Research Fellow, Dr. Anjum Nasim and attended by Mr. Aizaz Akhtar, Chief Minister’s Special Monitoring Unit, Government of Punjab. Members of Dr. Zafrullah’s team, who were visiting Pakistan to collaborate with the Government of Punjab on healthcare interventions, were also present. The talk was targeted at researchers who could benefit from Dr. Zafrullah’s expertise on primary healthcare. It was held at the invitation of the leadership of Consortium for Development Policy Research, who also inspired the idea of piloting a model BHU in Nankana under the guidance of Dr. Zafrullah and his team. Thus, researchers from CERP, IDEAS, IGC and CDPR participated in the event.

Dr. Zafrullah discussed the Gonoshasthaya Kendra (GK), a community development program he co-founded that provides a wide range of activities such as training health workers to provide health care in rural Bangladesh, setting up community schools and hospitals. He also highlighted the supply side constraints in providing health care in developing countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan. On the question of demand side issues such as preference for private facilities over public facilities, Dr. Zafrullah explained that rectifying the supply constraints would automatically address any demand side concerns. He and his team emphasized on the need to involve the local community as part of the solution to healthcare issues in rural areas. Dr. Anjum Nasim also raised the issue of doctor’s and pharmaceutical manufacturer’s mafia, who hinder such solutions. Dr. Zafrullah agreed that these mafias were a concern, but he also emphasized that if doctors got involved with the community, they would be incentivized to move to rural areas. A lively debate was also held on the merits of replicating the GK program in Pakistan and on the current initiative by the Punjab Government to setup model BHUs. The Bengali team explained that they would be overseeing the training and functioning of these BHUs. Mr. Aizaz Akhtar elucidated the idea behind launching these model BHUs in Nankana, which was to create a manual to document the setup. The manual would then be used to replicate these BHUs throughout Punjab by NGOs or the private sector. However, the researchers were keen to understand whether the social fabric of Punjab would allow the same degree of success as Bangladesh, particularly in terms of the extent of women participation. Dr. Zafrullah and Mr. Aizaz Akhtar were confident of the success of this initiative and invited the researchers to visit the BHUs once they were launched. Thus, the talk provided a useful platform for researchers to discuss the particular challenges of improving primary healthcare in Punjab.

Photographs of the Talk-