Indus Health Network launch nine public health programs at Al Ghazi Trust Hospital, Bhong, Rahim Yar Khan

Rahim Yar Khan, November 23, 2018: The Primary Care Program of Global Health Directorate (GHD), within Indus Health Network’s (IHN), launched nine public health programs at the Al Ghazi Trust Hospital, Bhong, Rahim Yar Khan.

Jameel Ahmed Jameel, Deputy Commissioner Rahim Yar Khan inaugurated the launch of nine health programs including Family Planning, Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI)[1],Immunization-Related Monitoring and Facilitation, Rabies, Community-based TB Screening, a Midwifery-led Labour Room, Safe Circumcision, Anxiety and Depression Counseling and Hepatitis C. These programs in Bhong will serve as the main channels to provide free and holistic healthcare for Bhong and surrounding Tehsils. The launch was attended by District Health Officer Dr. Ghazanfar Shafiq, CEO Health RYK Makhdoom Basharat, CEO Education Mr. Sana Ullah Sohrani, the Leghari, Raees, Mazari families and other senior members of the community, key stake holders, IHN board members and senior leadership.

Speaking at the event, Deputy Commissioner, Jameel Ahmed Jameel stated, “The launch of these 9 programs through an integrated healthcare approach is a pioneering effort in Bhong to help the community across Reproductive Maternal Neonatal Child Health (RMNCH), Infectious diseases, Safe Surgery and Mental Health.”

Bhong has high prevalence of Hepatitis C. However, people struggle to get access to diagnostic testing and treatment because of the high costs, the unavailability of care at local health centers and the asymptomatic nature of the disease. The Hepatitis C Program will provide holistic treatment of the disease in Bhong: including free of cost diagnostic tests and medications under one roof. Till now a total of 344 patients have been put on treatment. By June 2019 the program is projecting to diagnose and treat upto 2000 people.

The Aao TB Mitao movement will integrate with the hospital to conduct TB screening using the innovative mobile TB X-ray vans. These vans are equipped with latest digital X-ray machines in conjunction with CAD4TB software that helps detect chest abnormalities on the spot. People with symptoms of TB are further directed to the Al Ghazi Trust Hospital, Bhong for GeneXpert testing and treatment. Previously people in Bhong faced problems in being diagnosed and treated for TB. Through the Aao TB Mitao movement TB patients will be timely diagnosed and linked to TB care. The mobile X-ray vans will cover the hospital and outreach areas.

The Community Engagement Centre (CEC) aims to work in communities neighbouring the Al-Ghazi Trust Hospital, Bhong. They plan to host community dialogues on public health topics; encourage a local response through a communal learning cycle; and connect the most vulnerable members of communities to relevant resources.  Through their work CEC aims to create a sustainable health impact and empower local residents.

Mental health services will also be available for all patients at the Al Ghazi Trust Hospital, Bhong. Taking a holistic approach, trained counsellors will screen for symptoms of common mental health problems and provide talk therapy to improve the physical and mental health outcomes of patients.

Kiran Sitara engages youth to equip them with leadership and community mobilization skills. They will work with 50 teachers to empower a 1000 young girls. In Rahim Yar Khan, the program will be focusing on schools near the Al Ghazi Trust Hospital, Bhong and in Sadiqabad. The program aims to reach out to 100,000 people to help them adopt healthy practices and behaviors in their daily lives.

The Maternal and Child Health Program has introduced Sehatmand Kal, a classifying and management tool to identify common childhood illnesses. They have also launched an immunization and midwifery program to ensure safe childbirth. Family Planning and malnutrition programs, as well as neo-natal support systems will be implemented too. Community based awareness sessions regarding maternal and child health will also be provided with the help of community health workers.

A Rabies Management program has also been launched to manage all animal bites (mainly of dogs). The program will provide first aid as per WHO recommendations, medications and anti-rabies vaccines. In the future they look to establish a rabies elimination program with the help of the community.

Bhong is a culturally rich, small town of Rahim Yar Khan District in the Punjab province of Pakistan. Currently, there are two Basic Health Units (BHUs), some private clinics and the Indus Health Network’s Al Ghazi Trust Hospital, Bhong catering to the primary healthcare needs of the population. Before the launch of these programs, patients requiring extended and complex care were referred to hospitals located up to 30km away. Due to scarcity of nearby health care facilities and financial constraints people could not get any treatment. Hence, in early 2018, IHN-GHD conducted a needs assessment by engaging with local communities to identify their health issues and requirements. This enabled them to make an informed decision on the selected public health programs with a hope to improve and enhance accessibility to quality healthcare in Bhong.

Once the nine programs are launched, IHN-GHD will work towards strengthening healthcare linkages by introducing more programs and facilities in the area with a focus on Rahimyar Khan and Rajanpur, through continuous community engagement and support of the local stakeholders.

[1]  IMCI is an integrated strategy, which takes into account the variety of factors that put children at serious risk. It ensures the combined treatment of the major childhood illnesses, emphasizing prevention of disease through immunization and improved nutrition.