An alliance of public and private healthcare institutions, supported by the Sindh government, has launched the Pakistan Lifesavers Programme that aims to train 10 million Pakistanis in key lifesaving skills such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation and bleeding control.
The programme was launched at an event at the Aga Khan
University in Karachi on Saturday.
The PLP aims to reduce the burden of death and disability from two major causes: cardiac arrest – when the heart suddenly stops beating – and blood loss from injuries. Under the programme, citizens will be taught how to perform simple measures that could improve an individual’s chances of survival.
Preventing deaths from cardiac arrest and injuries caused by
road accidents, gunshot wounds and serious household mishaps require a strong
chain of survival. This chain is a sequence of critical actions that starts at
the incident site and ends at the hospital, according to experts.
Trained bystanders represent the first link in the chain and
can play a vital role in improving survival rates in case of these two
Since a majority of these two cases occur outside hospitals,
experts say, Pakistan needs a critical mass of citizen rescuers who could act
as a bridge in the healthcare system and provide essential support before a
patient is taken to a hospital.
“As physicians, we feel a sense of powerlessness when
we see cardiac arrest or injury patients come to the emergency room,” said
Dr Noor Baig, a senior instructor in emergency medicine at AKU.
“In the majority of cases, these patients arrive at the
hospital when it’s too late as they have either lost too much blood or their
heart has stopped beating for too long.”
Dr Baig said they would be in a better position to treat a
patient if a trained bystander could provide early vital care by recognising a
cardiac arrest or massive bleeding.
The PLP is a multi-stakeholder collaboration whose members
include the Sindh government, Aga Khan University, Aman Healthcare Services,
Dow University of Health Sciences, Edhi Foundation, First Response Initiative
of Pakistan, International Committee of the Red Cross, Jinnah Postgraduate
Medical Center, Mukhtar A. Sheikh Hospital, National Institute of
Cardiovascular Diseases, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Institute of Trauma
and Ziauddin University.
Emergency medicine specialists at the PLP launch event noted
that countries such as Japan, Singapore, Ireland and the United States had
benefited greatly from similar initiatives to train citizens in CPR and bleed
The programme will be launched in Karachi in 2020 where hundreds of volunteers from the alliance will impart CPR and bleed control skills to trainers. This group will then teach the same content to school and college students with each session guiding participants to:
- Assess the individual’s condition and ensure
- Communicate with emergency response services
- Initiate chest compressions in the case of
cardiac arrest, or apply tourniquets and other bleed control measures for
- Disseminate preventive public health messages
After Karachi, the PLP will be expanded across Sindh and
other provinces in line with its goal of training 10 million people across the
country over the next 10 years.
Dr Junaid Razzak, director of AKU’s Centre of Excellence for
Trauma and Emergencies, said that every member of the society should be trained
in life-saving skills.
“Each preventable death represents an enormous loss to
our country,” Dr Razzak said. “The PLP seeks to empower Pakistanis to
protect their loved ones and fellow citizens from harm.”
Speakers at the event noted that they aim to partner with
schools to scale up the number of training sessions provided. Expressed support
for the PLP, Sindh Minister for Human Settlement Ghulam Murtaza Baloch
mentioned that he was involved in discussions to contribute to the success of
“Thousands of lives are lost each year due to sudden
cardiac and traumatic injuries in Pakistan,” Baloch said. “There is a
huge need for life-saving skills and the education department is committed to
supporting and ensuring the success of this programme.”
A tripartite MoU was also signed at the event by Sindh
Secretary for College Education and Literacy Mr Rafique Buriro, Sindh Secretary
for Health Mr Zahid Ali Abbasi and AKU Medical College Dean Dr Adil Haider.