PESHAWAR: The health department is likely to allow paramedics to run first aid and referral centres after fulfillment of legal formalities, according to sources.

They said that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would become the first province to allow its 15,000 in-service and as many out-of-service paramedics to do private medical practice within the ambit of the existing law.

The issue was discussed in a meeting held between Health Secretary Abid Majeed and KP Paramedical Association last week. The meeting agreed to seek opinion of the federal government as well as the provincial bodies prior to making a final decision.

The KP Faculty of Paramedical and Allied Health Sciences Act, 2016 defines “paramedics” as a person, who provides supportive service for diagnostic, therapeutic, preventive and rehabilitative fields in health care system after undergoing prescribed courses and training in recognised institutions.

KP Health Care Commission Act, 2015 defines “health care provider” as, amongst others, a person registered by the Paramedic Council. However, there is no council and the federal government is in the process to form it.

They can be allowed to run first aid, referral centres after fulfilment of legal formalities

The erstwhile North West Frontier Province Medical and Health Institutions and Regulations of Health-Care Services Ordinance, 2002 provides for one of the functions of the Health Regulatory Authority (HRA) to set standards for the practice of medical, dentistry, nursing and paramedical profession and for issuance of licence for practice in the province.

The Allopathic System (Prevention of Misuse) Rules, 1968, says those, who are eligible for grant of permit for prescribing antibiotics etc, also include dispenser a member of paramedics.

The HRA, now replaced with Health Care Commission (HCC), listed paramedics on serial 26 in proformas for enrollment of medical practitioners.

However, Peshawar High Court (PHC) on May 9, 2017 in a case ruled that: “No doubt, under Article 18 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 every citizen has freedom to carry on any trade or business but the same is subject to certain qualification which may be prescribed by the law. The petitioners herein are not possessing the prescribed qualification for running private dental or medical clinics under Medical and Dental Council Ordinance, 1962 and learned counsel for the petitioners was unable to pinpoint any law under which the petitioners could run private clinics without the prescribed qualification, this court feels no hesitation in holding that the petitioners are not legally authorised to run private clinics. Therefore, both the writ petitions being devoid of force, are hereby dismissed.”

The health secretary didn’t have the authority to issue any orders, but it was opined that the record showed inclination and endorsement of the government to permit paramedics for limited private practice within the parameters of first aid.

There has been a marked improvement in standards of paramedics’ education and they are being offered MSc in relevant disciplines. They take care of patients in rural areas as well as in big hospitals.

The health secretary proposed framing proper parameters, scope of work, TORs for the first aid and referral centres of paramedics and approval from HCC.

The chief executive officer of KP Faculty of Paramedical and Allied Health Sciences would seek the opinion of federal government on the issue of Paramedics Council within 15 days.

The CEO will also seek legal advice if there is need to contact PHC for revision of its verdict of May 9, 2017.

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2018