PHRL envisions to play an active role in disease prevention, surveillance and response in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In the past two years, our team helped us become one of the largest Covid-19 testing laboratories in the country. We envision to become the largest infection diseases laboratory. In this context, we are expanding our laboratory capacity. We will reinforce our microbiology, serology, molecular biology, and genomics laboratories. This will improve our testing capacity to include all the 40 notifiable diseases. In addition, our mobile testing laboratory will help trace and actively control local outbreaks, as well as import of infectious disease from land routes.
Our focus on quality is what makes us trustworthy in the eyes of policymakers as general public. We have a dedicated biosafety officer, a quality manager, and written standard operating procedures for each lab operation. Our training programs, collaborations, and accreditation efforts keep us working round the clock to achieve the best possible quality of our tests.
Our ambition is what makes us attractive for support. In two years, we have expanded from 5 employees to more than 100; and a capacity of 20 tests per day to 5000 tests per day. With this ambition, we have launched Pakistan’s largest genomic surveillance program. This will help the world scientific community trace the evolution of Covid-19 in real time.
Our leadership is what takes us to the first position. We were the first provincial lab to start Covid-19 testing, the first to identify Covid-19 case, the first death, the first recovery, the first community transfer. We aim to remain first in the field of public health laboratories. Continuing this tradition, we have become the first provincial public health laboratory to test and declare Cholera outbreak, and first Congo fever case of the season.
Our innovation is what makes us the best laboratory to make policy. Our published research on pool testing of Covid-19 samples, reinfection cases, and seroprevalence has helped the provincial health department make policies for effective control and mitigation measures.
Our 1-year annual plan is to:
- Establish testing for 40 notifiable diseases
- Genomic surveillance of Covid-19, Influenza, Dengue
- Establish collaborations with hospitals for sample referral and response
- Strengthen links with health department for outbreak identification and response
- Improve mass communication for effective awareness and prevention
It is with a sense of solemn responsibility that I address you at the dawn of a new era in the academic history of Khyber Medical University. We witnessed substantial horizontal growth initiated by the valorous efforts and inclusive vision of the pioneers of this beacon of knowledge in the region. Within a short span of 13 years since inception 2007 to 2020, eight constituent and 93 affiliated institutes were added to the university, and a faculty of 220 eminent scholars was enlisted, including 52 doctors of philosophy, an unprecedented achievement and a matter of pride for any institution. The keen reception of various programs and courses offered by the university among scholars from a wide range of health disciplines is an ever-strengthening evidence of the verity of that vision.
Appreciating our pioneers’ accomplishments, let us now initiate the much-needed paradigm shift in the academic stance of the institution; let us take education from being to becoming. We need to bring our structures, processes and outcomes at par with the best international institutions, with the aim of empowering our scholars to actualize their potentials, bringing them to their rightful place in the forefront of scientific discovery and innovation as per Global demands.
To that end, we shall work with a commitment to teamwork and seamless integration, aiming at peerless eminence in not only acquiring but generating knowledge. Our education must impart scholastic depths and lifelong commitment to learning and objective exploration of reality with insights into the systems perspective to our scholars. That, in the long run, will lead to substantive research/development.
Ongoing, locally owned and managed audits, incorporating adjustment for random variation, will be an integral part of all entities and all processes. Without such objective assessment, management reduces to a blindfolded drive. Accompanying this address, I present a 120-day plan regarding initiatives of immediate priority. The key target areas are institutional expansion, process and service enhancement, and effective redress systems for general and ethical concerns, ensuring confidentiality. Task forces comprising of employees with experience in the relevant areas are to be formed for pragmatic planning and implementation with documented audit trails in all three domains. Periodic review reports will be generated and a central coordination council will be put in place for oversight, support, review and follow up of all initiatives in the best interest of institution/public.
Fully cognizant of the burden of responsibility I am committing to, let us reach for strength in our history where small teams of committed individuals sharing a vision and a higher purpose achieved success still resounding through the echelons of history.
For my colleagues, faculty members, employees from all departments and units, and our scholars, I reiterate our mission of becoming and staying a role model of research-driven, practice-informed, diverse, inclusive and equitable institution of academic excellence with the highest standards of ethical behavior at all levels, living up to our values of integrity, inclusiveness, diversity, innovation, equity, and rigorous science/economic will being and prosperity.
Let us join in a prayer for the strength and wisdom to actualize the vision we are setting for ourselves and to serve the nation.
Professor Dr. Zia Ul Haq
MBBS, MPH, CHPE, PhD, Post-Doc, FFPH
Vice Chancellor, Khyber Medical University