Day 3, AKU’s 21st National Health Sciences Research Symposium, Karachi: From earthquakes and floods to terrorist attacks, schools in Pakistan have been exposed to numerous emergency situations.
Although there have been periodic training programmes by the National Disaster Management Authority’s Pakistan School Safety Framework and other institutions, but the question is, are our schools prepared for an emergency today?
The question was raised by Azra Naseem, a faculty member of AKU’s Institute for Educational Development and the moderator of a session on school preparedness for emergencies as part of Aga Khan University’s 21st National Health Sciences Research Symposium, Emergency Care: Time and Life Matter.
The experts called for a mandatory schools preparedness for emergencies in Pakistan.
“We equip our children with skills to prepare them for the real world. What we don't do is to equip them to handle emergencies,” said Norbert Almeida, a renowned safety and security expert and one of the panelists. “CPR for medical emergencies and run hide tell in case of active shooters are measures that can easily be taught. Girl Guide and Boy Scout platform, CSR initiatives, civil defense programmes are some of the quickest and surest ways to do it.”
Amima Sayeed from the Habib University was of the view that preparedness for emergency or disaster situation cannot be seen as a standalone target. “Schools will have to start seeing life-long learning as their central goal for children. By doing so, they focus on developing skills set that will enable children to respond to difficult, challenging situations, and have the resilience and creativity to function and thrive whatever may be the circumstances,” she said.
School principals, teachers, parents, school administrators and members of the civil society participated in the discussion.
In a plenary session on the third and concluding day of the symposium, Dr Naseeruddin Mahmood, founding trustee of ChildLife Foundation, trustee of SINA Health Trust and co-founder of Clinic-5 narrated the story of ChildLife Foundation and "its mission to provide every child with quality and affordable healthcare facilities as part of public-private partnership in Sindh province".
Dr Asad Mian, head of the organising committee and the chair of AKU’s department of emergency medicine shared the symposium recommendations that focused on the need to implement effective emergency care at the local and national levels.
AKU’s President Firoz Rasul, and Provost and Vice President, Academic, Carl Amrhein also addressed the symposium and applauded the organisers and participants for a successful event.
The symposium was closed with a vote of thanks by Laila Akbar Cassum, co-chair of the organising committee.