The government made a major announcement on Sunday that concerns Pakistani doctors working overseas.
Prime Minister Imran Khan invited overseas doctors to return to the country, promising a favourable working environment and he asked them to help bring about significant reforms.
He was speaking at the end of the 10th International Medical Conference in Islamabad. One such group is already working to strengthen the health sector back at home by collaborating with their alma mater.
The Dow Graduates Association of North America or DOGANA has a network of alumni who do projects to benefit the university.
Each batch chooses a different project on its 25th anniversary. Currently, the association is working on two initiatives through which it gives back to the country.
The first one is providing medical training and expertise to Dow University’s batch of doctors who are registered on the e-Doctor portal. e-Doctor is an online certification programme for women who have been out of touch with the medical profession after graduating. It was launched by Dow University and online teaching platform Educast.
“DOGANA members prepare lectures on primary care and deliver them through the e-Doctors portal. Once the doctors are certified they enter the telemedicine pool,” explained DOGANA President Dr Mamoona Shaikh-Ahmad who is also an anaesthesiologist and pain management expert.
The second initiative is the establishment of the DOGANA Institute of Genomic Sciences at the university’s campus in Karachi. The institute will have a state-of-the-art laboratory for genetic testing, gene therapy and second generation sequencing to improve diagnoses of cancer and genetic diseases.
The institute will provide research opportunities and MPhil and PhD and training for medical students. The DOGANA website claims they have already collected 36% of the donations needed to establish the institute.
A virtual knowledge corridor is also in the works whereby experienced overseas doctors will offer their expertise, train current doctors and provide patients in Pakistan with second opinion facilities.
This will be the first of its kind, Abdullah Butt, the CEO of Educast, told SAMAA Digital. “We are ready to create a healthcare network with the help of the government.”
The medical corridor will also create SOPs for hospital infrastructure, he said, adding that the pool of doctors abroad and the women doctors being brought back into the workforce will go a long way in strengthening the public healthcare sector.
There are over 1,000 registered women doctors from 22 countries other than Pakistan who are part of the e-Doctor programme, Butt said.