With efforts underway to reverse the fragmentation of the federal health functions in the post-devolution regime, there is a greater likelihood that the administrative control of Islamabad’s government-run Federal Medical and Dental College and the attached 200-bed, non-teaching Federal General Hospital will soon be shifted from the Cabinet Division to the National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination Ministry.
More than two months ago, May 4, 2013 to be exact, the then caretaker government led by Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso renamed the National Services and Regulation Ministry the NHSRC Ministry before tasking it with overseeing all major health institutions and vertical health programmes at the federal level.
Among these health institutions and programmes, which had been controlled by eight different ministries or divisions since the decentralisation of the Health Ministry in 2011, were National Institute of Health, National Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Network, Health Services Academy, Pakistan Medical Research Council, Central Medical Board, Directorate of Central Health Establishments, Expanded Programme on Immunisation, National Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health Programme, National Programme for Family Planning and Primary Health Care, National Programme for Prevention and Control of Avian Pandemic Influenza, National Programme for Prevention and Control of Blindness, National TB Control Programme, National Population Welfare Programme, Prime Minister’s Programme for Prevention and Control of Hepatitis, National AIDS Control Programme, and Roll Back Malaria Control Programme.
However, Federal Medical and Dental College and Federal General Hospital located inside the Prime Minister’s National Health Complex in Islamabad’s Chak Shahzad area remained out of the renamed ministry’s control.
As part of its bids to consolidate health entities left at the federal level after the 18th Constitutional Amendment, which led to the devolution of the Health Ministry to the provinces, the NHSRC Ministry wrote to the Cabinet Division lately to put in for the administrative control of the two entities.
However, the reply has been pending since.
In the letter seen by this correspondent, the NHSRC Ministry insisted that placing Federal Medical and Dental College and the attached Federal General Hospital under the control of the CAD Ministry was unrealistic, especially when health education and its related subjects like PMDC and International Health Regulations had been assigned to it (NHSRC Ministry).
It further said that the ‘intangible’ allocation of health subjects had caused administrative cracks in the official business of its (the NHSRC Ministry’s) and other such ministries or divisions.
“Based on the above facts and in order to improve efficiency and good governance, it is now imperative on part of the Cabinet Division to re-allocate the above business to the NHSRC Ministry in the public interest,” the letter concluded.
According to an official in the know, the ministry’s top bosses are keeping their fingers crossed that their plea will finally carry the day.
Federal Medical and Dental College was inaugurated by then Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani in June 2011.
It is affiliated with the country’s premier Quaid-i-Azam University and has the city’s premier Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences as attached teaching hospital.
Also, there is a strong possibility that PIMS, Federal Government Polyclinic, the city’s second largest government hospital, and National Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, too, will ultimately go to the NHSRC Ministry.
The three entities, which had operated under the Health Ministry in the pre-devolution regime, are currently overseen by the CAD Ministry.