AKU to launch book on evolution of surgical specialties in Pakistan

Surgeons at the Aga Khan University are working on a book to tell a story of the evolution of surgical specialties in Pakistan, starting from its birth in 1947 to the present state with reflections across medical colleges, hospitals, institutions and pioneers in the field.

This was announced at the inaugural session of the 7th AKU Annual Surgical Conference, Surgical Research: Exploring our History – Navigating the Future.

“Research in surgery has enabled surgeons to enhance healthcare quality, resulting in better outcomes. Authors of the book will also explore what tools and methodologies are needed to improve surgical education and research, considering the availability of expertise, resources and technology in low- and middle-income countries like Pakistan,” said Dr Shahzad Shamim, one of the editors and the organising committee chair of this year’s conference.

Other editors include Drs Muhammad Rizwan Khan, Safdar Ali Shaikh and Syed Ather Enam. The team aims to launch the book within a few months.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan is the main certifying institution for surgeons, while public and private teaching hospitals bear the burden of responsibility for surgical education and training.

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While the capacity of the healthcare system in the country has not expanded at the pace of surgical care needs, Covid has widened the gap further with financial implications on healthcare system, education and research. “Additionally, effects of new Covid variants like Omicron on healthcare facilities and workers are causing delays even in scheduled surgeries,” said Dr Shamim.

The conference will explore how to deal with new challenges while keeping an eye on existing issues, addressing the shortage of trained surgical specialists, non-uniform presence of trained surgeons in urban and rural areas and absence of a centralised structured training body.

Talking about the significance of this year’s AKU Annual Surgical Conference, Dr Shamim said that it is unique in the sense that it not only focuses on the future of surgery and surgical research, but has dedicated sessions looking at the history of surgery, especially in the context of Pakistan.

“Our textbooks and curricula touch very briefly on our past.”

Research from the conference is published in a special supplement of the Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association.

The three-day conference will feature more than 100 experts from around the world and several sessions, including keynote addresses by author and speaker Henry Marsh and Executive Director of American College of Surgeons David B. Hoyt, and a dialogue with musician and UN Goodwill Ambassador for HIV/AIDS Salman Ahmad. AKU President Sulaiman Shahabuddin, Medical College Dean Adil Haider and Department of Surgery Chair Syed Ather Enam addressed the inaugural session.

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