PESHAWAR, Dec 21: President Gen Pervez Musharraf has said that prosperity of the country depends on progress in health and education. Addressing a function marking the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the Khyber Medical College here on Tuesday , the president said: "We have had a weak education foundation at the primary level whereas education facilities at the top level are satisfactory.

"To correct this problem at national level we will have to go for a national primary education with more emphasis and top quality education at the primary level." In order to achieve this end, he said, the present curriculum would have to be modernized and teachers trained on a priority basis.

The president said apart from hundreds of formal schools, colleges and universities, over one million students were enrolled in Madressahs and students of these institutions would have to be brought into the mainstream by imparting them top education in all branches of contemporary knowledge so that they could become good bankers, doctors and engineers, besides being top Islamic scholars.

To ensure quality education, he said, the government had amended the university ordinance and converted the University Grants Commission into Higher Education Commission to give impetus to efforts of spreading higher education.

Referring to pathetic health facilities in the country, the president said: "In the past the primary and secondary sectors used to be ignored with the result that rural and small towns could not get modern health facilities. Due to lack of proper medical facilities in rural areas, the load kept on increasing on city hospitals.

"We realise the importance of primary health care and are concentrating on equipping basic health units (BHUs) with modern facilities and hospitals at the tehsil level are also being equipped with these facilities," he said.

He directed the NWFP government to follow the experiment of the Punjab government which had joined two or three basic health units into one to be visited by top doctors thrice a week and the doctors there were getting transport facilities and a handsome salary package so that they could serve the people in rural areas in a better way.

He said that if possible this system should be institutionalised in other provinces as well so that people living in far-off places and in rural areas could also get standard medical facilities.

The president urged young doctors not to shy away from working in rural areas since they belonged to the noblest profession. He also advised them not to prescribe expensive medicines which were out of reach of the common man, but try to find cheap alternatives.

In a lighter vein, the president asked doctors to charge the rich patients more and provide inexpensive treatment to the poor. In his special advice to young doctors, the president urged them to build their character on four main pillars.

"They are: honesty, truthfulness, contentment and a balanced approach towards life," he said. The president also urged them to learn English as it was a prerequisite for development.

Responding to demands presented in the welcome address, the president announced that the government would make the Khyber Medical College a degree awarding medical university in due course of time after fulfilment of legal formalities by the NWFP government.

He announced a grant of Rs20 million for the college and said the KMC would get more funds once it was converted into a medical university. KMC Principal Prof Dr Khalid Mufti presented the welcome of address.

The president gave a special gold medal to Minister of State Dr Nasim Ashraf for his selfless service in the field of medicine. Dr Nasim Ashraf had graduated from the Khyber Medical College in 1972. Dr Fawad Qamar received the gold medal for breaking all academic records of the KMC. KMC Principal presented a shield of the college to the president on this occasion.

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