Healthcare professionals advised to
organize academic activities in medical
institutions instead of Hotels

It is the poor patients who pay
for all this-Shaukat Ali Jawaid

LAHORE: Prof. I.A. K.Tareen former Head of the Dept. of Psychiatry at King Edward Medical College along with Dr. Unaiza Niaz another noted psychiatrists of Pakistan chaired the session devoted to Ethics and Mental Health during the Asia Pacific Conference on Psychosocial Rehabilitation held at Lahore from November 1-4th 2013. Prof. S. Haroon Ahmad from Karachi was the first speaker who talked about ethical issues in practice of psychiatry in the absence of mental health laws.
He highlighted the efforts made in the past to get a comprehensive mental health law passed but now since the health has been given to the provinces, it has come under the purview of the provincial governments and Sindh province has issued an Ordinance recently. He also mentioned how he interacts with the representatives of the pharmaceutical trade and industry, see the medical representatives only once a week on a fix day and they are not allowed to donate drug samples but asked to donate it at the institution for use to treat the poor and needy patients.
Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid Chief Editor of Pulse International presented salient features of the National Bioethics Committee Guidelines on healthcare professional’s interaction with the representatives from Pharma trade and industry. It was pointed out that a vast majority of the healthcare professionals practice ethical medicine and similarly quite a few pharmaceutical companies were practicing ethical marketing but there are a few among the doctors as well as Pharma trade and industry who indulge in unethical practices and bring a bad name to the whole community. Salient features of these guidelines are transparency and voluntary cooperation between the healthcare professionals and the Pharma industry. A central body has been suggested to award CME credit for all the academic activities. One of the important suggestions includes shifting of all academic activities from seminars to symposia and medical conferences to the medical institutions. He made it a point that time has come that the medical profession should go back to the lecture halls and auditoriums of medical institutions from the banquet halls of Five Star Hotels for all these academic activities. It will not only reduce the expenditures to a great extent but will also provide academic environment. Conference organizers as well as Pharma companies are required to post on their website any assistance extended to the medical institutions, healthcare professionals for such academic activities including sponsorship of travel within the country and abroad for attending these conferences. The speakers at the conferences are also required to make a disclosure at the beginning of their presentation about who has sponsored them.
These guidelines also cover, drug samples, industry sponsored symposia, publication of research, peer selling of products, Pharma company sponsored speakers at the conferences, satellite symposia during conferences, sponsorship of CME and CPD activities, gifts and giveaways, prohibits display of company, product names, banners at backdrop and within the halls where the conference is being held. It is also emphasized that we need to create awareness of unethical practices among all the stake holders, ensure oversight agencies to monitor wrong practices and take punitive action against defaulters. Healthcare professionals and Pharma industry are integral part of the healthcare delivery system. Their interaction cannot be avoided but objective should be making focus patient-centric rather than self centric to maximize individual gains. We should look at ways and means to strike a balance and ensure healthy interaction. We also need to start naming and shaming the individuals and institutions, organizations who indulge in unethical practices. Let us be honest to science and to the profession which we have adopted and uphold professional ethics in our conduct. The least we can do is start ignoring these unethical people and have their social boycott Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid remarked.
Dr. Asma Humayun from Islamabad talked about teaching of medical ethics in medical colleges. Ethics, she opined is a study of moral aspects of clinical practice. Doctors are supposed to follow ethics evening during their protests. She also hinted at the curriculum for teaching medical ethics which is currently being prepared by the Health Care Ethics Committee of NBC which is likely to be finalized soon.
Dr. Shujat Naqvi in his presentation said that while conducting clinical trials, let us be honest and take informed consent of all the study subjects. He reiterated his remarks that even a right drug won’t fix wrong environment. We have no drug for violence. Drugs treat disorders but not behaviours. Never let a physician find you interesting and let us all practice ethical psychopharmacology.
Summing up the session Prof. Tareen commended the presenters who highlighted various important issues. He further stated that let us be honest and speak nothing but the Truth. Let us try our best and a lot can be achieved. While using drugs start with a low dose and gradually increase the dose is the golden principle, he added.

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