off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid

An enlightened dedicated
group of Family Physicians


During the last fifteen years or so the Family Physicians in Pakistan have not only realized the importance of Continuing Medical Education and Continuous Professional Development but have also organized themselves. The discipline of Family Medicine is now also fairly well established with Departments of Family Medicine in some medical colleges and medical universities. Fellowship in Family Medicine by CPSP is now also available.  Now more than one association, societies of Family Physicians are working in Pakistan and they organize regular CME meetings, Workshops and conferences aimed at building professional capacity of their members. Pakistan Academy of Family Physicians with its main offices at Lahore is one such group of devoted, dedicated enlightened Family Physicians.

Working under the leadership of Dr. Aftab Iqbal Sheikh, it has many active workers particularly Dr. Altaf Cheema, Dr. Muhammad Nadeem Khawaja and their colleagues who are the moving spirit behind the PAFP’s academic activities.  Previously it used to hold its meetings in Lahore but since last year, it also started holding its Mid-Year conference at Islamabad. This year the conference held on July 17th 2016 was eventful in many respects.  Firstly it was organized in collaboration with a large number of professional specialty organizations, Foundations, Institutions which gave it lot of credibility and secondly it also ensured the participation of many eminent medical personalities from different disciplines of medicine as guest speakers in the scientific sessions. Prof. Javed Akram Vice Chancellor of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Medical University, Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences as usual as a patron of this group provided valuable help, assistance and guidance to make the conference a great success.  The conference attracted participants from sixty two cities of Pakistan and the proceedings started right in time at 8.30 AM which was indeed remarkable.

Yet another highlight of this Mid-Year DOCTORSCON 2016 was that the programme started with some religious talks which was followed by presentations on various important topics related to Mother and Child Health,  Bronchial Asthma, Migraine, Hepatitis-C,  Diabetes, Gestational Diabetes Mellitus, Polycystic Ovary Disease, Worm infestations and management of Hypertension besides Medical Uses of Aspirin followed by workshops on Diabetes. During the conference proceedings the speakers emphasized the importance of becoming good human beings first to become good doctors. They also talked about accountability and self-monitoring by the medical profession.  They also deserve to be commended because they have been actively cooperating with the Punjab Health Care Commission (PHCC) to ensure minimum standards of healthcare delivery system instead of criticizing the PHCC which some others in the profession with vested interests have been doing. This group of family physicians appears to have realized and rightly so that in order to eliminate the menace of quackery, it is essential that first efforts should be made to provide universal minimum standards of healthcare delivery to the public which is affordable and accessible as well. They realized its importance and have been cooperating with the PHCC urging healthcare professionals, healthcare facilities to get registered with the Commission.

While there were many positive points in this conference, there were certain deficiencies and drawbacks as well.  First of all the organizers must realize the importance of time management. In future they must make sure that the speakers stick to the allotted time and the moderator/chairpersons of the session make sure that the proceedings are run as per time schedule.  The organizers may also consider giving some guidelines to the speakers as regards the number of slides and their presentations so that the desired message is conveyed effectively within the allotted time period. After presentations, there must be adequate time for discussion so that the participants can ask questions or ask the speakers to clarify certain points from their presentation. This time, no time was given for discussion and without question-answer session, it is not possible to involve the participants. Speakers love to hear their detailed and elaborate introduction but in order to ensure maximum utilization of the time, it is better to restrict to brief introductions of the speakers so that enough time is available for discussion.

Secondly the practice of allowing Lucky Draw, Prizes for the participants during the scientific programme should be discouraged. It can be organized by the respective companies at their stalls. Efforts should also be made to organize such conferences at some medical institution rather than Five Star Hotels to reduce the overall expenditures. The practice of presenting Shield or Mementoes to every speaker can also be avoided to reduce the expenditures. Presentation of Shields or Mementoes should be   to a few and that too reserved for the Chief Guest, Guest of Honour or Chairperson of the sessions. The speakers can be presented Appreciation Certificates. Brief break for Tea during the Sessions will give some breathing time and participants will be more attentive to the speakers and presentations.  Having more than one parallel session covering different topics can also be looked into to ensure that all the subjects important for the Family Physicians are covered. One hopes the organizers will give it a serious thought and try to overcome some of these deficiencies in future conferences.

Tail Piece: One of the key tasks of the visionary leader is to engage hearts.

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