Overcoming the challenges of community-engaged emergency referrals in a rural district of Pakistan

Imran Naeem Abbasi, Sameen Siddiqi

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1 Citation (Scopus)


A functional referral system for addressing health emergencies requires coordinated efforts by health system's stakeholders and the community. Using the Rural Health Programme (RHP) Thatta as a platform provided by an academic institution, district health system stakeholders and the community of Mirpur Sakro, taluka of Thatta, were engaged to strengthen the referral system for health emergencies through active community engagement. Through consultations with stakeholders, a referral system plan was developed with community volunteers from each village as focal persons for transportation, referring patients to health facilities and maintaining referral documentation. The stakeholders' experience and perceptions about the referral system were assessed through qualitative in-depth interviews. Patients' experiences of referral system improved with enhanced transport availability, but they faced structural challenges, including out of pocket transport expenses, weak back-referral links, lack of trust between the community and healthcare providers and poor availability of medicines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2648-2651
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the Pakistan Medical Association
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • Implementation research
  • Pakistan
  • Referrals
  • Rural
  • Sindh
  • Transportation


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