KARACHI: The Aga Khan University (AKU) has developed Pakistan’s first Advanced Practice Nursing (APN) training programme, which has been endorsed by the Pakistan Nursing Council as a pilot programme for potential scale-up, and is currently being discussed with regulatory bodies for its formal launch in the country.

This was announced by Dr Rozina Karmaliani, Dean of AKU School of Nursing & Midwifery, at a seminar held on the university campus on Wednesday.

The event celebrated the services of Pakistan’s nurses and midwives, highlighted their challenges and proposed strategies to improve their working conditions as well as career growth opportunities.

Speaking about APN’s importance in a panel discussion, Dr Karmaliani said: “It’s the first-ever APN training programme in Pakistan that would empower nurses and midwives for more autonomous roles, and help solve the most critical healthcare challenges being faced by the country.”

The burden of healthcare, she pointed out, was unevenly distributed with only one nurse supporting two doctors (midwives and lady health workers combined). She added that nurse specialists would be able to manage preventive and non-communicable diseases with APN training and practice, thereby reducing the overall healthcare burden.

The healthcare system, Dr Karmaliani emphasised, needed a transformative approach given the growing challenges in terms of the pandemic and climate change and to bridge the gap between what was desired and what was happening on ground.

“Simultaneously, there’s a paradigm shift in the way patients are consuming healthcare services. They want it to be close to their home and community. Hence, we believe that it’s absolutely the right time to develop APN roles in Pakistan,” she said.

The target was to launch a general model of APN and gradually progress to sub-specialty model. It would positively impact the patients’ access, their experiences, and clinical outcomes, she added.

Panellists, including AKUH interim Chief Nursing Officer Khairunnissa Hooda, Chief Executive Officer Dr Shahid Shafi, Chief Medical Officer Dr Asim Belgaumi and AKU Medical College Dean Dr Adil Haider, endorsed the view that environment was conducive to introduce APN in Pakistan.

AKU president Sulaiman Shahabuddin, who was also the chief guest, praised services of nurses and midwives and said the AKU had been following the World Health Organisation guidelines and engaged in promotion of nursing and midwifery for over four decades through investment in education, jobs, leadership and service delivery.

“Today, we are so proud that more than 8,000 nurses in Pakistan, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda have graduated from AKU,” he said.

Nursing Now Challenge (NNC) Programme Director Professor Lisa Bayliss-Pratt encouraged early career nurses to become a part of NNC, a global platform that brings together nurses from around the world, supporting them with leadership capacity building, advocacy and clinical skills.

International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) Vice President Sandra Oyarzo Torres highlighted the role of ICM in collaborating with midwives globally, and urged everyone to provide fair working conditions and standardised regulations for the midwives.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2022

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