For years, a tragic reality has been causing problems in Pakistan. A lack of proper healthcare facilities causes a large section of the population to depend on fraudulent “doctors” and “clinics” for their health.
This dangerous situation also affects the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province. For a long time administration has been resisting in addressing these dangerous practices. The KPK government tried to changed this in 2015, when they delegated to their healthcare commission the duty to develop rules and regulations to act against these unlawful practices. This translated into the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Healthcare Commission Act, a document depicting regulations for healthcare services. At a very basic level it puts an outline in place for illegal clinics and practitioners to be identified and properly managed.
Under the act, the Healthcare Commission can create a registry and license for all clinics, hospitals, and practitioners. Also, it can receive and look into complaints from average citizens. Under certain conditions, it can also close down and fine establishments and individuals for specific violations of the government’s guidelines for healthcare providers.
The act began to be enforced in January of 2015 and at the time there was a lot to be defined in regards to specific details like punishments and more comprehensive guidelines for clinics and hospitals, but it was a very good place to start.
The act showed it’s effects pretty soon. 1200 new establishments were evaluated and registered in only 2 months and many dangerous practices were closed down. However, this process has not been smooth as funding has become a problem (too much work for very few inspectors). By 2016 over 2000 clinics were sealed and over 500 quacks were arrested. Several modifications since then have made the act more severe against violators and integrated it more into the process of creation of new clinics or hospitals.
Pros and Cons
The act creates legal basis to improve the way the government registers, evaluates and punishes private and public healthcare establishments.
There’s now a system to take complaints from the general public about the existence and consequences of illegal healthcare practitioners and establishments.
It has had an important positive effect by eliminating dangerous practitioners.
The enforcement of this at requires a lot of people working long hours. However, this is currently not properly funded, creating opportunities for illegal practices to endure.
It adds steps to the creation of new clinics and hospitals, creating a delay inside an already complex process.
In 2016 there was an attempt to expand the act to the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA). This area required more regulation within the field of healthcare. However, the process of extension will need the creation or modification of laws to allow the act to be enforced there.
Since the act is simply a very clear but basic statement of commitment to a certain way of operating healthcare establishments, it is possible to apply and integrate into any province without too much disruption of already established laws. However, this commitment would imply a complex process to adapt the infrastructure and fund the enforcing of the laws.
Do you think general public has benefited as a result of this act and the steps taken with it? Do you think the funds and effort spent on this process could have been better spent on another reform? Let us know in the comments section.