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IHN readily working with all stakeholders to contain the monster

IHN readily working with all stakeholders to contain the monster

  • IHHN through its’ public-private partnership initiatives, became a major testing center for samples collection
  • IHHN helped set up 100-bed Quarantine Center in Dumba Goth; 120-bed COVID-19 Hospital in Gadap Town and 20-bed COVID-19 Unit in Badin
  • IHHN’s Research Center opens Pakistan’s first country-specific, online, bilingual self-screening tool

Interview with Dr. Abdul Bari Khan — Chief Executive Officer, Indus Health Network

Profile:

Hailing from a middle-class family, Dr. Abdul Bari Khan, graduated from Dow Medical College in 1986 and received a fellowship in Cardiac Surgery from The College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan in 1995.

While he was studying, he became a member of the Civil Hospital’s Patients Welfare Association. He also worked for the renovation of the Civil Hospital’s Emergency Department and participated in the establishment of the Blood Center and a free Diagnostic Center.

As early as the beginning of his education, it was evident that social work would remain an integral part of his life. His career at the Civil Hospital, Karachi provided him with a direction to steer his efforts in this new direction.

The year 1986 was a turning point in his life when he fell witness to the aftermath of the Karachi bomb blast and the miseries of its victims. The suffering of the patients was all the more exacerbated due to the lack of beds and almost non-existent casualty ward in public hospitals.

He, along with his friends and colleagues worked to collect donations and established a well-equipped casualty ward at the Civil Hospital — one of the largest public hospitals in Karachi. He also played an instrumental role in establishing a Cardiac Surgery Ward along with an operation theatre and an ICU.

As a social worker and doctor, Dr. Bari has devoted his life to the promotion of medical facilities and services in the country.

In 2004, the management of the then Islamic Mission Trust contacted Dr. Bari to manage a hospital in Korangi. After joining hands with them, in 2007, Dr. Bari embarked upon a never-ending journey – the establishment of The Indus Hospital (TIH).

Changing the paradigm of healthcare provision in Pakistan, The Indus Hospital has now evolved into the Indus Health Network (IHN). The Network is currently managing 12 hospitals across Pakistan, of which four are owned by IHN while eight are being run and managed under a public-private partnership program. It also runs community and facility-based programs across 52 districts in the country.

In recognition of his efforts and achievements, Dr. Bari has earned numerous awards. In 2015, he was awarded the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz and on March 23, 2019, Dr. Arif Alvi, President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan conferred the second-highest civilian award – Hilal-e-Imtiaz.

Dr. Bari also has honorary doctorates from Hamdard University and Muhammad Ali Jinnah University. He is an Eisenhower fellow and has also received the Achievement Award by Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry. The Consumer Rights Protection Council of Pakistan also honored him with the Proud Humanity Award.

Qualifications

  • FCPS 1995 College of Physicians & Surgeons Pakistan
  • MBBS 1986 Dow Medical College Karachi – Pakistan (Now Dow University of Health Sciences)

Membership Of Professional Bodies

  • Chairman, Prime Minister Health Task Force
  • Member, Sindh Chief Minister Task Force
  • Member, Corona Emergency Fund
  • Chairman, Board of Governors Peshawar Institute of Cardiology
  • Member, Policy Board Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan.
  • Member, Senate- Federal Urdu University of Arts & Technology.
  • Member, Pakistan Society of Surgeons.
  • Member, Pakistan Society of Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgeons.
  • Member, Pakistan Medical Association Karachi.

Offices Held

  • Member Advisory Committee Faculty of Biomedical Engineering NED University, Pakistan

PAKISTAN & GULF ECONOMIST had conversation with Dr. Abdul Bari Khan regarding COVID 19. Following are the excerpts of the conversation:

For healthcare workers fighting at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic, not seeing their families for days, and being garbed in Personal Protective Gear (PPE) in the sweltering heat, a few minutes off their feet was heavenly.

A small area in the pediatric complex of the Indus Hospital & Health Network (IHHN) was designated as the Worry-Free Zone for IHHN staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. The staff used it for relaxation during the few minutes they would get in between the frantic running from one ward to another.

When the world was hit by COVID-19 in December 2019, no one thought, that this would become the pandemic of the 21st century, killing more than 2.5 million people so far. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic.

The first case of the deadly infection in Pakistan was reported on February 26, 2020. Even before the first case of the infection was officially declared in the country, IHHN was already in the planning and execution stage to deal with the outbreak.

To effectively deal with the pandemic, IHHN through its’ public-private partnership initiatives, became a major testing center for samples collected at government-run hospitals. In Karachi, the Network helped in establishing a High Dependency Unit at the Expo Center, while it also provided COVID-19 testing facility at Multan Institute of Kidney Diseases, in coordination with other stakeholders.

IHHN also established a four-bed facility at the Lahore cluster facility, while its hospitals in Manawan and Muzaffargarh, the Recep Tayyip Erdogan Hospital (RTEH) were declared by the Government of Punjab as COVID-19 facilities.

In Sindh, IHHN helped the provincial government in setting up a 100-bed Quarantine Center in Dumba Goth as well as a 120-bed COVID-19 Hospital in Gadap Town, and a 20-bed COVID-19 Unit in Badin.

Moreover, the Chief Minister of Sindh, Syed Murad Ali Shah included IHHN in its Anti-Coronavirus Campaign after the first case of the virus was found in the country. I as CEO of IHHN was selected as a member of Chief Minister of Sindh’s Corona Task Force. I later became chairman of the Prime Minister’s National Health Task Force.

To effectively deal with the pandemic and to make sure everyone was trained to deal with the pandemic, the Network’s Global Health Directorate’s (GHD) training and learning department conducted training on awareness, screening, sampling, sample handling, and on the use of PPEs.

Furthermore, screening desks were set up at every significant point of the campus across all IHHN health facilities to minimize the spread of disease among staff, patients, and attendants.

In March 2020, a public-private partnership between Karachi’s District South administration and GHD was initiated to screen and/or test individuals for COVID-19. The district administration set up the country’s first drive-through COVID-19 screening and testing facility. Citizens could make a phone call to the helpline 1166 to get an appointment for PCR testing after answering a few basic risk-assessment questions. The goal of this testing facility is to screen and test masses while minimizing physical contact by limiting individuals to their vehicles.

In order to minimize people’s exposure to the potential patients, IHHN’s Research Center created Pakistan’s first country-specific, online, bilingual self-screening tool.

In collaboration with the district governments, GHD provided screening, triage, and swab collection facilities in sub-sets of different districts in Karachi that had been identified as high-burden areas for COVID-19.

In districts Malir and West, GHD teams worked alongside the deputy commissioner and District Health Office teams in high-burden areas identified based on case detection. Mobile X-Ray vans were mobilized on a need basis near hotspots where they would set up a screening and testing camp.

While most public health programs operations were deeply impacted with COVID-19, IHHN’s Community Health Centers remained open. The Network’s TB, HIV, Maternal and Neonatal Child Health, Malaria, and Hepatitis C teams came up with solutions to ensure the continuation of medication supply for those under treatment to prevent treatment failures. These solutions included: provisions of medicine for a longer period; active follow-up etc. Teleconsultation was provided to those patients that suffered from chronic conditions.

The Network in partnership with Interactive Research Department’s ‘Pursukoon Zindagi’ program developed a comprehensive mental health response to the pandemic. Psychosocial support for patients who had tested for COVID-19 was provided during their isolation or quarantine period to provide mental health support as well as check-ins regarding physical health, contact tracing, and referrals to facilities.

For its staff across its 12 hospitals, the Network developed comprehensive guidelines for burial, taking care of COVID positive patients at home, ethical guidelines among others. The Indus & Health Network’s Blood Center also stepped up its efforts after the blood transfusion services were severely impacted. To overcome the hurdle, Blood Center contacted potential donors through social media. The campaign was a call to donors to organize small-scale blood drives at their residences.

While the Network was working on all fronts to deal with the onset of the pandemic, it was simultaneously working and servicing as a site for a potential COVID-19 vaccine. The Indus Hospital, Korangi Campus was one of the five sites in Karachi for the CanSinoBIO trial.

IHHN itself and collectively fighting to control the spread of the Coronavirus, however, it seems a long battle. At 127 million cases worldwide, the pandemic shows no sign of slowing down. IHHN is continuing to work with all stakeholders to contain the monster.

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