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DRAP directed to ensure availability of paracetamol in flood-hit areas

NA body calls for penal action against all those involved in hoarding or discontinuing drug's production

The National Assembly Standing Committee on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination on Thursday directed the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) to ensure an ample supply of paracetamol and anti-snake venom throughout the country, especially in the flood-affected areas.

Chaired by Dr Muhammad Afzal Khan Dhandla, MNA in Parliament House, the committee directed penal action against all those who were either involved in hoarding or discontinuing production of the paracetamol. The committee also directed holding the National Medical and Dental College Admission Test (MDCAT) tests on a single day throughout the country.

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The committee was apprised that the pharmaceutical sector had demanded an increase in the price of paracetamol; however, its request had not been acceded to by the federal cabinet.

The DRAP chief executive officer apprised that punitive action had been initiated against the concerned. The special secretary of the ministry apprised that the provision of medicines, especially in the flood-affected areas, was being ensured. He told that the government had already received a sufficient supply of paracetamol from foreign governments.

The committee also expressed its annoyance over the consecutive absence of the federal minister and secretary from attending the committee’s meetings.

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The Committee decided to discuss the Pakistan Nursing Council (Emergency Management), Bill, 2022 (Ordinance XXIX of 2021) (Government Bill) and the ICT Tuberculosis (Notification) Bill, 2022, moved by MNA Uzma Riaz in its next meeting.

The committee decided to further discuss issues related to DRAP in presence of the minister. It expressed disappointment in the performance of the Pakistan Nursing Council (PNC) terming it a failure to bring the nursing sector at par with international standards.

The committee was of the view that substandard clinical training, obsolete curriculum and lack of quality training institutions were the main reasons.

The committee directed the ministry to further ponder upon a legislative proposal in that regard and address all the issues pointed out by the committee. The committee also suggested that the amendments should not defeat the spirit of a regulator. The committee said that the proliferation of private institutions and lack of monitoring by PNC had deteriorated the standard of trained human resources. It also asked for a comprehensive briefing on the syllabus of all programs and fee structure for all these programs besides the monitoring system of PNC.

The registrar PNC apprised the committee about the performance of the nursing regulator. She informed that 60 per cent of 339 institutes imparting training in the sector were private institutes. She said that 17,485 nurses and paramedics have been enrolled with PNC to date.

The special secretary informed that the PNC had been subjected to infighting between its ranks which had resulted in the production of substandard human resources.

Later, the committee was briefed by the chief executive of the Islamabad Healthcare Regulatory Authority (IHRA) that IHRA had been mandated to regulate the healthcare sector within the jurisdiction of the Islamabad Capital Territory. He informed that the authority was keeping a vigilant check on the provision of the best healthcare facilities in private as well as public sector facilities. He further apprised that the authority had embarked on a plan to impart training in laboratory services and dentistry and would issue licences to professionals in both sectors.

The authority has digitised its processes for issuance of a registration of such facilities and handles online complaints, he told.

He assured the committee that the standards in healthcare are being set up which would be monitored strictly. He also complained about the dichotomy in health services since healthcare facilities in the public sector were being provided by both Capital Development Authority (CDA) and ICT. He stressed bringing entire healthcare facilities under the umbrella of the Ministry of Health Services.



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