Indus Health Network: Bridging gaps in the medical sector

Indus Health Network: Bridging gaps in the medical sector

Indus Health Network is en route to redefine Pakistan's healthcare

By Saira Bano

Published: Wed 14 Aug 2019, 3:54 PM

Last updated: Wed 14 Aug 2019, 6:02 PM

Healthcare plays an important role in any country's economy as healthy population in itself is an asset. It also adds to the human capital of a country and eventually contributes to the economic and social development. However, Pakistan's situation looks bleak.
It is the fifth largest country by population and 21 per cent of its citizens live below the poverty line. The government spends only 0.9 per cent of its GDP on health. Health statistics in Pakistan show serious gaps in public service delivery. A conservative estimate shows that there are only 9.6 physicians; 4.9 nurses and midwives; and 6.9 beds available for every 10,000 population.
Back in 2005, the situation was more dismal so some kind-hearted doctors and selfless entrepreneurs thought of starting a hospital for the under-served population of Karachi. The 150-bedded Indus Hospital was established in 2007 in the densely-populated area of Korangi.
The hospital is a unique concept based only on humanity and collective social responsibility. The idea was to provide quality care to every patient without charging a single rupee. It was a need-blind hospital that does not discriminate on any basis.
During the first decade of its existence, the Hospital transformed into Indus Health Network (IHN) - a network of multidisciplinary hospitals, physical rehabilitation centres, blood centres, primary care programme, and a large number of public health outreach programmes. Spread over 42 districts of Pakistan, the Network has partnered with provincial and federal government as well as many private organisations working on a similar healthcare model.
IHN is supported by a network of blood centres. The blood centre based at the Korangi Campus is one of the most modern and high-tech blood centres in the country that provides safest possible blood to all patients. It has extended its services through three regional blood centers in Punjab and Sindh.
Road accidents and diabetes are two major causes of physical disabilities. The physical rehabilitation centre at the Korangi Campus has been a hub of aid and assistance to such patients. It provides prosthetic and orthotic devices, physiotherapy, speech therapy, and audiology services. The blueprint was replicated in Lahore and Muzaffargarh to support patients with upper and lower limb disabilities.
Pakistan is facing a constant urbanisation that has created a void of healthcare services in rural areas and is putting immense pressure on bigger hospitals. IHN has opted a policy shift and is now focusing on providing basic care in the rural community. It is not only lessening the burden of bigger hospitals, but is also helping people getting timely treatment in their own neighborhoods.
The idea is being implemented by the Global Health Directorate of IHN. The directorate has a multi-pronged policy of 'health for all'. It is offering quality treatment through primary care and mobile TB clinics.
Along with primary care, the directorate is also running disease-based program with the support of Global Fund. It is currently running TB, HIV, Hepatitis, Diabetes, and surgery programmes. GHD recently launched the first container clinic near Badin and has acquired a boat that would be transformed into a clinic to serve the difficult-to-reach coastal areas.
Innovative approaches are employed by IHN's staff to tackle health issues to effectually tackle endemic diseases through community-based treatment methods that aim to involve the youth and the community to affect change in patient behaviour and detection of the disease. This engagement of youthm, Kiran Sitara, from within the community has been very successful at early detection and treatment compliance of Tuberculosis in communities.
Apart from health, Indus Health Network is also focusing on research. The Indus Hospital's Research Centre is undertaking various researches and running multiple health and research projects like clubfoot and cochlear implant programmes.
IHN is synonymous for innovation and modern technology. The network has recently installed a new and most modern Total Lab Automation system, which is one of the latest labs in the country.
The current monthly average load of chemical pathology is 80,000 tests and it is estimated that with the new TLA system, its efficiency and efficacy will increase 30 times. Moreover, a Biosafety Level III (BSL-III) laboratory facility was also inaugurated in Korangi Campus.
The lab has been built to meet international specifications, and TB diagnosis are conducted according to the World Health Organisation's recommendations. Due to the capacity of the new BSL-III lab, IHN will be able to analyse a large number of samples and provide a timely diagnosis and faster treatment.
The network believes that the staff should be abreast with the most updated knowledge and equipped with new techniques, multiple trainings have been arranged. The clubfoot programme has trained doctors and physiotherapists from IHN and other hospitals.
The network has currently completed a year-long Certification Programme in Emergency Medicine for doctors working in the ER. The programme was conducted in collaboration between EM specialists from the Indus Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital - a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School in Boston, US.
The Indus Health Network provides holistic care to its patients especially paediatric patients. Children who are required to stay in hospital for longer period, eventually discontinue their education. To compensate for their educational loss, IHN has established a hospital-based school called 'Indus ke Sitaray'.
The management of IHN understands that the health network is in constant need of quality professionals and as a premier health network it is IHN's responsibility to create a pool of professionals.
In order to produce academically, intellectually, and ethically sound medical and paramedical experts, IHN was granted charter for the Indus University of Health Sciences in 2015. Currently, Indus College of Nursing and Midwifery and Indus College of Allied Health are functional. Soon, new colleges would start working as well.
The Indus Health Network is exploring new horizons of healthcare in a resource-constraint country. It has become a symbol of trust, quality, and care and is serving as an alternate healthcare system. Since the beginning, it has served millions of people and the number is increasing every day.
To cater to the growing needs of patients, the Network is expanding its services. A thousand-plus bedded hospital is being constructed at the Korangi Campus, which would be able to accommodate more patients.
A new 600-bed hospital is also being built in Lahore. What makes Indus stands out in the history of hospitals is that such a vast health network solely and successfully runs through public donations and grants.
Saira Bano is the deputy manager, Communications and Resource Development, Indus Health Network.

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