LAHORE - None of the foreign trained medical staff has been sent to the dengue-hit areas in Multan and Rawalpindi.

Dengue has reached epidemic proportions in the two cities, but patients are being handled mostly by the untrained doctors and paramedics while those trained abroad are stationed at Lahore and the government has no plans to send them in those areas.

Foreign qualified healthcare providers were supposed to be used as master trainers and in the dengue-hit areas when needed. Millions of rupees were spent from public exchequer to train health managers and healthcare providers on modern lines.

As per details, as many as 110 persons including five parliamentarians and over a dozen bureaucrats were sent to Thailand four years back for Dengue Epidemic Prevention, Control and Management Training.

MNA Shaista Pervaiz Malik, Advisor to Chief Minister on Health Kh Salman Rafiq, secretaries of health and finance departments, doctors from public sector hospitals and general practitioners, nurses, epidemiologists and entomologists were part of the batch sent to Thailand for training on December 5, 2011.

Insiders have termed it a pleasure trip as the batch mostly comprised persons who had nothing to do with handling of dengue patients. Those who actually got training were few in number, and even the government is not benefitting from their expertise at a time when the disease is spreading its tentacles across Punjab.

“Mostly irrelevant persons like parliamentarians and bureaucrats were part of the batch. Even relevant persons like doctors were blue eyed and most of them from Lahore. The department has no record of foreign trained doctors from public sector hospitals and general practitioners. In case of absence of any record, the department can seek assistance from public sector hospitals and Academy of Family Physicians. But so far no effort has been made to get their services for the patients in worst affected Rawalpindi and Multan,” said one officer at health department who desired not to be quoted.

“Training has no impact, whether in Pakistan or abroad, without regular refresher courses. Training should be a regular feature before peak dengue season. Workshops should be conducted at medical colleges/hospitals. Dengue should be made part of MBBS curriculum with regular update to fulfill modern day needs. We have provided training to medical staff at public sector hospitals and doctors in the private sector. Patients are already decreasing with the gradual drop in temperature. Now focus should be sustained efforts for updating knowledge and improving skill of doctors and allied health staff”, said Prof Javed Akram, Vice Chancellor Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Medical University/Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences Islamabad.

“Proper training is must for handling dengue patients. Doctors and nurses in Multan and Rawalpindi have been provided training. Dengue Expert Advisory Group has own mechanism of providing training. No private clinic can keep dengue patient unless it has doctors trained by DEAG”, said Kh Salman Rafiq.