Karachi: The Sindh Health Department’s district and provincial managers will for the first time be able to enroll in a graduate-level health policy and management programme while continuing to work, as part of an initiative to build capacity to improve the health delivery system in the province.
Under an agreement signed today by the Aga Khan University, the Government of Sindh and John Snow Inc., under the Health Systems Strengthening component of the Maternal and Child Health programme supported by USAID, 95 senior and mid-level officers will have the opportunity to participate in a master’s in health policy and management programme and individual graduate-level courses of this programme.
“AKU’s HPM Programme is the first in Pakistan to target both health care policy as well as institutional management, a specialized degree focusing on public health systems as opposed to the more generalist master’s in public health offered by most universities,” said Dr Farhat Abbas, Dean, Medical College.
Nabeela Ali, Chief of Party, John Snow Inc. added, “On the basis of assessment reports and looking at the capacity gaps very carefully, we supported design of stand-alone graduate courses with AKU. We are pleased to see that there is willingness at all levels to get these trainings.”
The programme, offered every weekend, is a blend of theory and practice, and targets working professionals who wish to enhance their academic knowledge and leadership skills.
“In public sector we really need to have some qualitative and quantitative changes. The health policy management training by AKU would really help bring this change,” says Iftikhar Shalwani, Secretary, Health Department, Sindh.
Core capacities of government managers will be built in policy analysis, strategic and operational planning, organizational and quality management, human resources, programme monitoring and evaluation and health sector reform. Enrollees will be drawn from the Health Secretariat, the Director General Health Office, District Health Officers and Provincial Health Development Centre.
This is the first time government managers will be able to study while continuing to work in the Health Department.
“This provides an opportunity for retaining experienced staff in key posts who have the opportunity to quickly apply the skills taught during the course as opposed to traditional training that involves a long leave of absence, a poor rate of people rejoining parent organizations and uncertain chance of appointment to strategic posts,” said Dr Shehla Zaidi, Programme Director of HPM.
The programme will train professionals in health systems planning, implementation and research eventually improving the health system in the province.