PESHAWAR: A law recently passed by National Assembly to constitute ‘allied health council’ has perturbed members of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Physical Therapists Association and they have demanded of the government to form a separate council for them as they have completed five-year degree like medical doctors.
“The National Assembly passed a bill according to which Pakistan Allied Health Professionals and Paramedics Council would be formed to overlook the matters relating to physiotherapists and paramedics. It is not acceptable to us as we are different from paramedics in terms of education and medical practice,” Dr Asif Ali, president of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Physical Therapists Association (KPPTA), told Dawn.
He said that the bill was sent to standing committee on health of National Assembly and was likely to be approved by Senate as well.
Prof Nausherwan Barki, who has been made head of the task force for the proposed council, told Dawn that physical therapists misunderstood the council.
“This has all been considered in allied health council. What various disciplines do not seem to understand is that a council is basically a licensing body, for each branch of which the relevant discipline will have full representation and control,” he said.
Ask govt to treat them like doctors by forming separate council
However, each discipline should develop its own independent association where its members could decide all matters related to their discipline, he said.
Dr Asif said that they had been demanding formation of council for physical therapy for the past 10 years but the recent legislation to make them part of the allied council disappointed them as paramedics and physiotherapists were different disciplines.
He said that in 2018, federal cabinet approved a draft for setting up Pakistan Physical Therapy Council, which was sent to law department but later Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination included it in the allied council, which was meant for paramedics.
Dr Asif said that paramedics got admission in different medical disciplines after doing matriculation and acted as support staff unlike physical therapists, who completed their five-year doctor of physiotherapy degree on the basis of 60 per cent marks in FSc (pre-medical) group.
“Nonexistence of a regulatory council has been hampering promotion of physiotherapy services including non-pharmaceutical interventions and exercises for body pains and rehabilitation of people with disabilities to a desired level,” he said.
Dr Altafur Rehman, member of KP Physical Therapist Association, said that an independent council should be established to ensure quality education and delivery of quality services.
He said that physiotherapists were doing MS and PhD from the institutions recognised by Higher Education Commission. There was need for a council for them on the pattern of doctors, nurses and pharmacists, he added.
Dr Altaf said that the decision to place physical therapists in allied health sciences would discourage the young professionals and that discipline would suffer decline. In the absence of a council, the physiotherapists were not allowed to receive patients directly and as result people relied on medical doctors, he added.
“Our services also include occupational therapy in which handicapped people are trained on how to hold pen, change clothes, wear socks and shoes and attend bathrooms in addition to driving vehicles by carrying out modification to ensure their accessibilities through changing patterns and alternation,” he said.
Dr Altaf said that in 2014, the PTI-led government in the province appointed about 50 physical therapists (25 female and 25 male) in district headquarters hospitals and later the project was extended to merged districts. “It means that the government recognises our services and education,” he added.
Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2021