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18th Amendment: Sindh demands billions it is spending to run healthcare facilities

April 02, 2018

KARACHI: Sindh Health Secretary Dr. Fazlullah Pechuho has asked the federal government to pay the billions of rupees the Sindh government is spending annually to run three major hospitals in Karachi, including the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD), Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC) and National Institute of Child Health (NICH) after devolution under the 18th Amendment.

“The Sindh government is spending 15-20 billion rupees annually on these three hospitals, whose annual budgets and grants have been increased manifold by the provincial government. These were federal institutions devolved to us through the 18th Amendment and the Centre should at least provide their running costs,” the health secretary of Sindh said while speaking at the inaugural session of 14 International Symposium of Pakistan Pediatric Cardiology Society here at a local hotel.

The international symposium of Pakistan Pediatric Cardiology Society is being attended by pediatric cardiologists and surgeons from different countries of the world, including the United States and the United Kingdom as well as different cities of Pakistan and they would be training local cardiologists and surgeons on the latest techniques in treatment of congenital and acquired cardiac ailments in children.

Dr. Fazlullah Pechuho said the promulgation of the 18th Amendment after the establishment National Finance Commission (NFC) Award, deprived Sindh of its due share in divisible pool, especially in getting the recurring costs of various healthcare institutes and health programs, which were devolved to the province as there was no mentioning of their running costs in the NFC Award.

He said the Sindh chief minister regularly takes up this issue in the meeting of Council of Common Interests (CCI) and demands the Centre to provide the running costs of the institutes, including JPMC and NICH, but added that the Sindh health department was running these healthcare facilities far better than the federal government.

Praising the NICVD’s expansion to entire Sindh, he said the cardiology institute was serving the people of entire Pakistan while its satellite centers and branches were providing state-of-the-art health facilities in various cities of Sindh after the Sindh government provided billions of rupees of annual grant to the institute.

“Similarly, we increased the grant of JPMC from Rs700 million to around two billion in the last few years. The JPMC is going to acquire the second Cyber Knife facility which would be a great achievement in the health sector,” he observed.

Urging professors at the public sector hospitals to provide better health facilities to poor patients, he said if patients were not getting the required treatment due to absence of doctors, medicines and unsatisfactory hygiene conditions, professors and heads of the departments should be held responsible as they were the commanding officers of their wards.

Patron of the Symposium and Executive Director NICVD lauded the organisers for holding the 14th international symposium and hoped that it would help in improving the healthcare facilities for children facing heart ailments in the province and offered his complete support to the Pakistan Pediatric Cardiology Society in its endeavours to end sufferings of children.

He informed that the NICVD was in the process of having a 250-bed Pediatric Cardiology unit, which would be completed in coming years and added that this unit would be requiring a lot of trained and qualified manpower to treat hundreds of children to be brought there. He hoped that this symposium would prove to be a great help in providing trained and qualified manpower to the NICVD and other healthcare facilities.

Eminent pediatric cardiologist and Convener of the Symposium Prof. Najma Patel said every year around 100,000 children come up with congenital and acquired heart ailments and defects but only 30 percent of them manage to reach any tertiary care health facility. Situation is worse in rural areas, she opined but added that after the establishment of NICVD’s satellite centers in five cities of Sindh, these children were getting quality healthcare facilities.

Deploring that thousands of children die every year without proper diagnosis of their heart defects and ailments due to lack of specialised facilities, she said their focus would be on improving the skills of primary healthcare providers to refer such children to pediatric cardiologists so that their diseases could be cured.

President of the Pakistan Pediatric Cardiology Society Prof. Kalimuddin Aziz and Secretary Prof. Masood Sadiq also spoke on the occasion while eminent surgeons including Prof. Sohail Bangash and others were also present on the occasion.