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January 31, 2019

PA again passes two bills returned by governor


January 31, 2019

The Sindh Assembly on Wednesday passed two bills again that were returned to the house by Sindh Governor Imran Ismail after he refused to give his assent to them.

The bills were passed with a majority vote without any changes made to them. The proposed laws included the Sindh Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (SICVD) Bill 2018 and the Code of Civil Procedures (Sindh Amendment) Bill 2018.

The governor had raised some objections to the bills and refused to accord his assent until certain modifications were made to them. The legislature, however, passed them again without making any changes.

The bill regarding the establishment of the SICVD was presented in the house by Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho. When opposition benches refused to support the bill despite Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah’s request to do so, the house adopted the bill with a majority vote.

The other bill regarding amendments in the code of civil procedures was also adopted by the PA, rejecting the objections raised by the governor. The house also sent another bill, the Sindh Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (Amendment) Bill 2019, to the Sindh Assembly’s select committee for further deliberations.

The CM made an emotional speech on the SICVD bill, saying that the government wanted the bill to be passed unanimously. He requested the opposition to support the bill; however, on their refusal, the assembly passed the law with a majority vote.

Shah also announced that the provincial government would continue the legal battle to retain the control of three major hospitals in Karachi – the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) and National Institute of Child Health (NICH) – which have been transferred to the federal government by the Supreme Court (SC). A review petition would be filed with the SC, the CM said.

Shah was of the view that health had become a provincial subject after the 18th amendment. Even in the 1935 laws before the partition, health was in provincial domain, he said.

The CM expressed hope that the provincial government would retain the control of the JPMC, NICVD and NICH. The federal government lacked financial resources to run these institutions, he claimed, stating that the federal health secretary had clearly written to the federal government that they did not have enough resources to run the three hospitals in their present state.

“When these institutions were handed over to us under the 18th amendment, they were in a shambles but we spent billions of rupees and turned them into world-class institutes of health. The NICVD is now the world’s largest centre for free-of-charge primary PCI due to our hard work and vision of our leadership. We would not let anybody destroy these institutions,” Shah declared, vowing to continue legal battle for the control of the three hospitals.

The CM went on to say that some elements were against the 18th amendment but he would not make any compromise on the provincial autonomy.

Commenting on the achievements of his government in the health sector, Shah remarked that the Gambat Institute of Medical Sciences in rural Sindh was performing liver transplants free of charge for patients from not only the other provinces of the country but also Afghanistan.

While presenting the SICVD bill, the health minister also claimed that health was a provincial subject according to the constitution. The federal government should not take over the reins of the JPMC, NICVD and NICH, Dr Pechuho said.

None of the three health facilities in question were research institutions, the minister remarked, adding that they were instead health service delivery institutions. The provincial government would retain its assets through legal process by filing a review petition with the apex court, she said.

Action against quacks

Earlier in the session, the health minister replied to questions of the legislators. Discussing the government’s efforts to deal with quackery, she said the crackdown against quacks in the province had been stepped up by imposing up to two years of imprisonment and fines on those who were threatening the lives of people by posing as medical professionals without having any medical degree and licence to practice medicine.

Responding to a question, Dr Pechuho said there was a law that prohibited the government doctors from running their private clinics during their official duty hours. The health minister said that the government was making efforts to stop people from using antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription. To a question, she replied that typhoid was a curable disease but naegleria was not as it could only be prevented by using chlorinated water.

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