PESHAWAR, Sept 10: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has planned to create a new department to cope with emergencies caused by natural and manmade calamities in the province, it is learnt.
According to the relevant officials, creation of the emergency preparedness and response (EPR) department is part of the government’s plan to restructure the health department and make optimum use of available resources for improving health delivery network.
They told Dawn on Monday that contrary to the existing common practice of making stop-gap arrangements to respond to floods, earthquakes and mass displacements caused by militancy, the proposed department would handle emergency situations on a regular basis.
Officials said the department, the first of its kind in the country, was likely to be operational later this month after the provincial cabinet’s approval.
They said currently, only 150-bedded Trauma Management Centre at the Lady Reading Hospital received people injured by terrorist attacks in the province’s far-off districts for treatment but mostly, those with critical injuries died on the way to the facility due to profuse bleeding.
Officials said under the plan, emergency services would be integrated into the department to provide timely assistance to those injured in a terrorist activity.
“In every district, the health department will appoint six coordinators to keep liaison with the secretariat and directorate of health services about epidemics and diseases’ trend be recorded in the aftermath of natural calamities. The government doesn’t need any additional staff in view of the existing huge human resources,” an official said.
He said in all DHQs, accident and emergency departments would create special cells tasked with rushing the injured from the sites of terrorist activities to hospitals for urgent care.
“These cells will establish warehouse at district level where medical supplies and other related stuff will be stocked for supplying to the people in case of emergencies,” he said.
Officials said doctors, paramedics and nurses would be trained in trauma management in every DHQ, while ambulances would shift the injured from the sites of terrorist activities to the accident and emergency department.
They said the EPR department would be answerable to the health services directorate.
Officials said the cell would also establish liaison with the government’s line departments and nongovernmental organisations to streamline relief and medical activities in the aftermath of flood and other disasters.
They said currently, the government had many departments and huge infrastructure in each district but their performance was not up to the mark.
Officials said each districts had at least 50 ambulances given to different departments and NGOs by donors but only the district headquarters hospitals used their ambulances in emergencies.
They said working as one unit would also help the health department make evidence-based scientific decisions regarding emergencies in different districts and take timely, appropriate measures.
The plan was likely to be approved by the cabinet as it didn’t involve any additional financial cost due to presence of 60,000 health employees working in 25 districts of the province.