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March 13, 2019

Punjab govt decides to amend PKLI act


March 13, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Punjab government has decided to amend the Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute (PKLI) and Research Center Act and the provincial cabinet has approved certain changes in the law. “The amendment bill, passed by the cabinet, will be moved in the Punjab Assembly anytime,” a senior Punjab government official told The News on condition of anonymity.

Prof Dr Saeed Akhtar, who has been restored by the Supreme Court but has not yet been notified by the Punjab government as reinstated, told The News that the purpose of changing the act is to block his reinstatement as the PKLI president as ordered by the Supreme Court.

When approached Punjab government spokesman Dr Shahbaz Gill told this correspondent in a brief comment that any amendments in the PKLI act have not come to his knowledge. “I will share them with you when I will get them.” Specialized Healthcare & Medical Education Department Secretary Usman Moazzam did not return the call. Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Raashid did not attend her mobile phone despite repeated calls.

Dr Akhtar was restored by the apex court on March 1, but the notification of his reinstatement is yet to be issued by the Punjab government. He has met top bureaucrats of the provincial administration urging them to notify his restoration as directed by the Supreme Court. The world renowned urologist has also sought appointment with Prime Minister Imran Khan and says he wants to share his concept with him. The PKLI is identical to that of Shaukat Khanum hospital, he said.

The Supreme Court had reversed the decision of a former bench that had sacked Dr Akhtar and dissolved the PKLI board.

Dr Akhtar said the suo motu notice damaged the reputation of PKLI without any fault or financial wrongdoing of its management and delayed its completion that will cause a cost escalation. He believed that the government is bringing amendments in the PKLI act to take away its functional autonomy, affect its fund raising capacity and paralyse its ability to emerge as a centre of excellence by putting serving and retired bureaucrats in the board making it a government hospital.

“Lack of public trust in government organisations both for donations and joining them to serve will not allow the dream of PKLI to become Harvard of the East to be fulfilled and most of the people who came from abroad will go back. The Punjab government should sit with the existing PKLI board and modify the undesirable clauses with mutual consensus,” Dr Akhtar said.

It is stated that there is very high burden of kidney and liver diseases in Pakistan but rudimentary treatment and training facilities for such high volume ailments. The people who can afford treatment go to India and China and rest especially poor just die. Thus, there was a dire need of a center of excellence in this region to deal with these diseases. The PKLI was conceived as a center of excellence to help these patients particularly the poor. Besides prevention and treatment, creating a nursery of high caliber professionals especially in Intensive Care Unit (ICU), kidney and liver transplant and complex cancer surgeries so that in next 10 years Pakistan becomes self-sufficient in human resource, was even a more important function of PKLI besides cutting edge research.

There are five requirements of a center of excellence: Good infrastructure and equipment; best trained professionals; systems; vision, passion, drive and competence; and operational autonomy with no political and bureaucratic interference. The Punjab government accepted this concept. Thus PKLI was created. The acquisition of medical and IT equipment and construction of infrastructure was the responsibility of Infrastructure Development Authority of Punjab (DAP) while rest was the responsibility of PKLI.

The PKLI fulfilled all its responsibilities in timely fashion including the acquisition of highly trained individuals from Britain and America and creation of systems to run a hospital following the standards of the Joint Commission International, United States. The IDAP lagged behind in its delivery just because of large scope of construction.

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