Islamabad Healthcare Regulatory Authority (IHRA) has said that no healthcare establishment would be allowed to continue its services in the federal capital after June 2022 without having the authority’s license.
“All public and private healthcare setups including hospitals, laboratories, and clinics should be registered with the authority to avoid facing the issue of sealing any such facility after the deadline,” Chief Executive Officer, IHRA, Dr. Quaid Saeed Akhunzada said while talking to World Health News.
He said that the authority has completed initial information about 1,482 health establishments so far out of which 642 applications have been received for registration of these healthcare establishments while 354 healthcare establishments have been provisionally registered for three months.
He said that the authority has started ‘digital mapping’ from April this year from its own zone-wise teams to exactly know the number of health establishments, staff, and available services being offered to patients and other related information.
He added this information is updated and shared through the authority’s official website on daily basis. He said that the digital mapping is likely to be completed by June next year.
“However, after three to months, we will be in a position to have clear information about the figure of public or private health establishments, nature of facilities, number of doctors, staff or beds, etc. Every such information will be included in this digital map.”
Dr. Quaid Akhunzada said that the initial task is to register all healthcare establishments while our next step would be completing work on documentation of defining standards on which these setups are working.
“We have decided to train the staff of all hospitals, institutes, centers, and laboratories phase-wise on how to raise the standard of their respective facility, and in the next step after assessing and giving them rating we would give them a one-year license.”
The CEO said, “Our monitoring process would be ongoing as we would monitor these healthcare setups even after giving license while the authority will also assess their standards at the time of renewal of license. There will be a regular checking mechanism to evaluate their services.”
He said that the authority has decided to give a new concept of ‘star rating’ under which rating will be allocated to the working hospitals as per its services and facilities while the next step will be ‘casting’ under which service rates will be decided as per rating of the health setup.
He said that with this decision, the concerns of patients regarding heavy charges by private hospitals will be addressed. He added the authority receives a large number of complaints about overcharging and this thing will be controlled through this step.
He said that the fixed charges as per rating will be available on the authority’s website with an aim to stop private hospitals from this practice. In case of overcharging, patients can submit their complaints and the authority can impose fine or even close their services after confirmation, he added.
Dr. Quaid Akhunzada said that this will be a unique model as people living anywhere in the world can know the rates and level of services of any health setup in Pakistan while going through the authority’s website and checking ‘start rating’ in which everything will be defined.
He said that while availing this facility, patients from foreign countries may visit any Pakistani hospitals and if they find any issue they can easily approach the authority. “With this concept, we want to make the federal capital as ‘Medical tourism city’ where people from neighboring countries can get quality health services.
He said that the main objective of IHRA is to regulate healthcare services and establishments in the federal capital. He added these healthcare services and establishments, including all private and public sector hospitals, non-formal sectors like homeopathic, tibbs, rehabilitation centers, drugs rehabilitation centers, treatment centers, psychiatric clinics, cosmetics or surgery centers, nutrition centers, and clinical laboratories.
He said that in order to regulate these health establishments, the authority is working on standards and after completing its documentation work on these standards, health establishments will be examined to know whether these standards are being observed or not. He added after observing these standards, the license will be issued to the eligible setups to operate in the federal capital while the authority will not allow to work all substandard setups.
He said these steps aimed at ensuring that formal or informal and public or private healthcare services to the citizens of the federal capital are at par with the international standards to further internationally recognize these services also.
He advised the citizens to submit their complaints in case of overcharging, malpractices, or other related issues with hospitals. “We properly investigate each and every complaint and if any such complaint is found correct, then we can exercise our power of imposing fine up to Rs 1000,000 or six-month imprisonment or even seal such facility for an indefinite or a specific period.
Dr. Quaid Akhunzada said, “We are ready to perform our role of policing for all health establishments to protect citizens from wrongdoings of the health setups as we have been given mandate with the power to ask from these setups about any illegality with citizens.”
He added, “We have field teams who conduct visits to personally monitor the standards of health facilities in the federal capital besides completing routine assessments.” He said that the authority has decided to start a campaign against medical quackery in the federal capital with the support of the District Health Office.
He said that as per guess estimate around 5,000 individuals have been working illegally and playing with the health of innocent people. He said that after digital mapping, the authority will have an exact number of quacks functioning in the federal capital.
Dr. Quaid Akhunzada, “We have started collecting data to take action against them with the support of the local administration. We are against this illegal practice and our policy is zero-tolerance against quackery.”
He said that these quacks are the main cause behind the spreading of various communicable diseases like HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis. He said that the IHRA is an independent body that receives strategic directions from its board with having various sections including administration, budget, monitoring, licensing, and inspection.