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PESHAWAR: The health department is giving the postgraduate paramedical institute under the control of Khyber Medical University to upgrade the former, which remained closed since 2008, according to officials.

The institute was the concept of Salim Jhagra, a former secretary health, to offer postgraduate courses to paramedics. It has become a useless facility as about 10,000 diplomas and 450 degrees obtained by paramedics are not recognised as these have no equivalency under the rules of Higher Education Commission. Those paramedics were not considered for promotion.

Officials said that secretary health had seen the imposing building with spacious classrooms and other facilities and was in consultations with KMU vice-chancellor to promote the courses.

The move has been appreciated by paramedical association as it is beneficial for its more than 13,000 members. The association has demanded that the administration of the institute should remain with the government and paramedics should be given posts of principals, vice principals and teachers.

The doctors and nurses headed their respective directorates, colleges and schools but paramedics, the largest cadre in the provincial health sector, worked under non-paramedics, said Roidar Shah, the general secretary of the association.

He said that they feared that KMU would impose fee on their colleagues, who couldn’t pay the same, and the courses were meant to improve healthcare in the province’s public sector hospitals.

The institute, with less than 12 staff members, has become a liability as it was set up on 50-kanal near the Provincial Health Services Academy for promotion of medical education and techniques for paramedics.

In 2007, the University of Peshawar accorded affiliation for BSc, but it was withdrawn in 2012 because the institute had no proper building and was being run temporarily on the premises of Lady Reading Hospital. The PGPI’s building was taken over by the previous government to set up Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Medical College but in 2014 the then health minister Shaukat Yousafzai gave it back to paramedics to end the prolonged sit-in by the enraged staff.

Sources said that under the KMU, the institute would admit only paramedics, who were government servants in all 20 technologies for which permanent teachers would be appointed.

The health department wanted to upgrade and start BS programme there for paramedics within the next few months, officials said. They added that KMU would start BS courses on the request of health government. Sources said that the institute was being run on ad hoc basis with two acting principals at one time. No student had been admitted in the institute since 2008.

KMU Vice-chancellor Prof Hafizullah told Dawn that they were in the process to reach an understanding with the government for academic uplift of the institute. “We will depute permanent teachers to PGPI in case we sign a Memorandum of Understanding with health department. We have abundant trained human resources for imparting training to paramedics in line with latest developments in the area of medical sciences,” he said.

Prof Hizbullah said that they could launch BS courses immediately and would go for MS programme after one year. “We are prepared to pursue our basic mission of promoting research in local context to apply brakes on burden of diseases,” he said.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2016