AKU and WHO EMRO join hands to raise LMIC healthcare standards

Karachi, June 17, 2021 (PPI-OT):The Aga Khan University’s Medical College, Pakistan’s faculty collaborated with the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean to conduct a comprehensive 10-day course on hospital management for healthcare professionals in low and middle income countries (LMICs).

Most senior officials in hospitals in developing countries tend to be doctors who have been promoted to managerial roles. It is rare for these healthcare professionals to have experience or formal training in how to plan and run the operations of a hospital which hinders efforts to address common issues in the healthcare sector such as operational inefficiencies, poor use of resources and unproductive workflows that impact patients.

Dr Sameen Siddiqi, who is a former WHO Director of Health Systems, and current Chair, Department of Community Health Sciences at AKU Medical College, spearheaded this multilateral collaboration as the Course Advisor. The course received above 400 applications, signifying a large demand for such capacity building trainings in LMICs. Over 40 healthcare professionals working in public and private sector hospitals in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Somalia and Sudan attended the skills-based online course which included case studies, group projects and expert sessions that spanned key areas such as strategic planning, finance and budgeting, supply chain management, workforce management and disaster preparedness and management.

“You can’t raise healthcare standards without improving the performance of hospitals,” said Dr Bisma Imtiaz, Course Co-Director. “Improving hospital management practices is a proven, low-cost and high-impact method to enhance access to quality healthcare.” Dr Narjis Rizvi was also a Co-Director of the course.

Participants were shown how to evaluate the technical feasibility, cost implications and quality and safety parameters of various proposals to enhance hospital performance. They were challenged with a hospital management case study situated in a relatable low resource setting. The case studies spanned the duration of the course, with participants working in groups to apply skills acquired such as conducting SWOT analyses, conflict resolution, vision and mission statement development, budget planning, application of priority matrices to complex conditions, and much more.

Groups showcased their work during the closing ceremony, leaving course facilitators and directors confident in participants’ abilities to utilise all tools in their own resource constrained hospitals to improve healthcare standards. Course participant Esther Mwadime commented on the case study activity, saying “It really brought us together, it was the epitome of true teamwork in a diverse environment.”

“The WHO remains committed to improving hospital performance in order to achieve universal healthcare goals,” said Dr Ravaghi. “We will continue to pursue this goal through collaborations and partnerships with reputable academic institutes in the region, particularly with AKU, to ensure sustainability of these programmes.” The course contributes to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 17 which stands for strong global partnerships and cooperation to best achieve sustainable development in LMICs. The course’s objectives align under target 3C of Goal 3, Good Health and Wellbeing, which call for special efforts to build the capacity of healthcare workforce in developing countries, and contribute to the overall United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.

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