Daily Times features #HumanizeMedical in report on medical practice

Daily Times Humanize report

Daily Times newspaper today featured #HumanizeMedical in its report on medical practice in Pakistan. Headlined ‘Wali’s bid to humanise medical practitioners in Pakistan’, the report was bylined by Naveed Ahmad, special correspondent, Daily Times. The report is reproduced here:


ISLAMABAD: Raja Aftab Hussain was in a recovery ward after marathon heart surgery lasting 10-odd hours by surgeon Shahid Khalil on October 10. The Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology staff discharged him on Friday while he was declared unfit for discharge by the surgeons who operated on him. The resident of Sher Dhamial village won’t get an iota of care he was receiving in the recovery ward.

The facility, managed by the provincial government, is a so-called highly advanced tertiary-level hospital in northern Punjab. Since Aftab Hussain was brought to the facility, the family went pillar to post for seeking attention of physicians and surgeons. Solace and courtesy are least present luxuries at the high-profile facility, meant for a common Pakistani.

Just a few months ago in Lahore, Fatima Gul (48) breathed her last after three weeks on a ventilator in intensive care unit at a private hospital. She succumbed to GBS, a rare disease causing ascending paralysis, weakness beginning in the feet and hands and migrating towards the trunk. Unlike Fatima, Aftab lives to suffer more at the hands of the country’s medical practitioners.

“Having spent two weeks at Lahore hospitals with my disruptor and futurist eyes open, this was good enough time to find what ailed the medical profession: apathy, the fundamental flaw in medical education and practice,” says Wali Zahid, her brother and Pakistan’s leading human resource trainer.

He is deeply upset at the medical practitioners of the country while showering praise for their individual achievements. “It’s not about incompetent or corrupt doctors or overcharging hospitals: it’s about the best of the best. Who may be best at what they are doing, but still devoid of the basic; humanness,” says Wali.

With no dreams of building a model hospital for GBS patients, Wali has launched a movement aiming to humanise the medical education and practice: to bring back the ‘human’ in medical ecosystem. Based in Pakistan, Wali has taught healthcare professionals, medical faculty and medical administrators.

Wali is currently the CEO of SkillCity, learning and coaching institution.

Talking to Daily Times, he said the medical practitioners have no affinity with humans. Former editor of a Lahore newspaper in the early 1990s, he identifies a few reasons for the horrific behavioural decline among the medical corps.

“The length of education and the way it is delivered is precisely the reason why we have lost ‘human’ in a doctor.”

“Apathetic, fatigued professors who routinely undermine students’ esteem because of the power they have and awe they carry.” “The residency, the house job that goes on for years, with duties stretching 36 hours or 48 hours without proper sleep or break or a place to sit.”

He believes that even before doctors get licence to treat patients, they have lost the ‘human’ side of their personality. To them, patients are merely a number, or disease-types. Wali blames the incentive schemes of big pharmacy companies, which render patients as mere cash, resulting in over treatment.

The movement – Humanise Medical – has attracted attention of Pakistan’s educated middle class so far.

The drive aims at total system redesign – from premedical education to specialization to practice to public healthcare delivery in all parts of the world.

The activists seek to make medical education problem- and practice-based so the learning lasts. It proposes reduction in the length of medical education at each stage: pre-med, school, residency, fellowship. Intervene at three stages: 1) length of study, 2) learning & teaching methodologies, 3) the teacher behaviour towards students. The campaign advocates emphasis on wellness and health, thus the population get educated as to how to live healthy and remain well and “fewer numbers come to the hallways of clinics and hospitals.”

“By 2050, we expect that the length of medical education is reduced to half; the medical faculty will treat students as peers and healthcare becomes patient-centered and so on,” says Wali.

The movement seeks that from admission to a medical schools to final exam at MD/MBBS or later specialization, assessments will change from current proficiency-testing to their aptitude, drive and preference for this long-haul flight of medical practice.

As per the new paradigm, according to the lead activist, physicians will love their profession, and not abhor it, every patient that walks into their door at clinics or hospitals, will be treated as an individual and not just a number.

To a question about the viability of the movement’s ambitious goals, Wali says a pilot program can be launched at a medical school to implement this new, humane approach at a medical facility, resulting in a white paper identifying the outcome and improvements needed.

The plan seems simple to the family and attendant of likes of Raja Aftab. “In the wake of a health emergency, the first thing on our mind should not be to call an influential to seek physician’s attention or a bed in the ward.”

Source: Daily Times | 20 October 2014

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