islamabad - Ministry of National Health Services Regulation and Coordination (NHSRC) and Indus Health Network (IHN) on Friday hosted the Stakeholder Engagement Conference for National Vision for Surgical Care (NVSC) 2025 for strengthening the surgical system in Pakistan.

Additional Secretary NHS Iqbal Durrani inaugurated the NVSC 2025 Conference advocating the need for strengthening surgical systems in the country and creating a roadmap which includes development of infrastructure, technical expertise and service delivery. 

The conference was attended by the federal ministries, provincial government departments, local and international surgeons, anesthetists and obstetricians. NVSC 2025 Conference was led by the IHN in collaboration with NHSRC, with technical support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Harvard Medical School, Program in Global Surgery and Social Change. 

A steering committee of 25 local and international experts guided the process. The steering committee was chaired by Dr Safi Malik, Director Programs-NHSRC and Dr Sania Nishtar, President Heartfile.

The statement issued said that globally 5 billion people lack access to safe and lifesaving surgical care.

Majority of these individuals live in Lower Middle Income Countries including Pakistan. Moreover, 16.9 million people die from surgically preventable diseases each year and approximately 28-32% of the global disease burden is attributed to surgically treatable conditions including childbirth complications, cancer related surgeries, surgeries that can improve vision – such as cataracts, heart disease related surgeries and much more. Additionally, unsafe surgical care can cause substantial harm and can create further complexities.

Commenting on the positive development in the medical arena of Pakistan, Dr Assad Hafeez, Director General of MONHRSC stated, “To deal with this growing global health problem, member states including Pakistan signed a resolution at the 68th World Health Assembly in 2015 promising to strengthen surgical systems as an integral component of universal health coverage. Through this initiative, Pakistan will be the first Asian country to adapt a locally relevant version of this framework.” John G. Meara, MD, DMD, MBA, Kletjian Professor of Global Surgery and Director of the Program in Global Surgery and Social Change and Professor of Surgery in the Department of Surgery, at Harvard Medical School said “Providing safe, affordable, timely surgery will save millions of lives and trillions of dollars in lost productivity.

Agencies should play a critical role in integrating surgical care into health system strengthening and sustainable development if they want to achieve meaningful, long-lasting outcomes.” Speaking at the event, CEO of IHN, Dr Abdul Bari Khan stated, “The strategic approach for NVSC 2025 involves stakeholder engagement, situational analysis of current surgical system, consensus on a roadmap and eventual drafting of provincial surgical plans and their implementations”.  

He further said that, “As a next step, provincial plans will focus on implementation of frameworks through six domains which include infrastructure, service delivery standards, workforce, information management, finance and governance relevant to surgical care delivery.” Through the NVSC 2025 Conference, Pakistan is working towards improving health strategy to ensure that adequate, lifesaving surgical care is universally available.