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May 24, 2019

Bilawal, Sindh govt condemn federal govt for taking over control of three Karachi hospitals


May 24, 2019

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and the Sindh government have strongly condemned the taking over of three key hospitals of the province by the federal government and termed it an attack on provincial autonomy.

In a statement, Bilawal said the people of Sindh had invested billions of rupees in revolutionary improvements at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC), the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) and the National Health of Child Health (NICH) after the hospitals were handed over to the province under the 18th amendment.

“The expansion of NICVD hospitals to several cities of the province has excelled the performance of the Sindh government, which paid for expensive cardiac treatments of patients from all over Pakistan,” he added.

The PPP chairman said that taking over these main health facilities without waiting for the final verdict of the Supreme Court on a review petition filed by the Sindh government had displayed the arrogance of the federal government and a challenging contempt of the supreme judiciary by PTI government.

“An admission by the NAB chairman that he is holding back inquiries of corruption against government ministers to stop its imminent fall and the PTI government’s contempt of court action have exposed the constitutional crisis that the country is currently facing,” he said.

Bilawal pointed out that the PPP’s Sindh government was spending Rs12.5 billion on the NICVD and Rs4 billion on the JPMC annually to ensure quality, free-of-cost treatments for patients from all over Pakistan. The Sindh government had been providing state-of-the-art health facilities to people from every corner of the country without any charges, he said.

The PPP chairman made it clear that his party and the people of Sindh wouldn’t allow anyone to usurp the hard-earned assets of health facilities. He categorically said that resistance would be mounted at every available forum, warning the federal government to withdraw the notification before the public outrage mounted.

The Sindh government and officials of health department also strongly reacted to the notification issued by the Federal Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Control regarding the restoration of three major Karachi hospitals’ control to the federal government, saying the decision was taken in haste and it would only increase the difficulties of the people of Sindh as well as of other provinces.

“After the devolution of power, the Sindh government has spent billions of rupees to upgrade these hospitals, transforming them into state-of-the-art welfare health facilities where people from the entire Sindh as well as from other provinces of Pakistan are visiting to seek healthcare services,” a spokesman for the provincial health department said and added that they had received no intimation from the federal government regarding these hospitals.

The official maintained that the NICVD was a semi-private hospital and used to charge thousands of rupees from the patients for the provision of various services, but after devolution, all the facilities, including state-of-the-art surgeries, various types of implants and procedures, were provided completely free of charge to patients without any discrimination.

“The Sindh government spent several billion rupees to expand the network of the NICVD to other cities of Sindh, including Sukkur, Larkana, Khairpur, Mithi, Sehwan, Nawabshah, Hyderabad and Tando Muhammad Khan, where people from other provinces, including Balochistan, South Punjab, KP, Gilgit and even Azad Kashmir are coming to seek cardiac care,” he added and feared that these services could be affected due to the illogical move of the federal authorities.

Mixed reactions

Mixed reactions came from medical and paramedical staff of the NICVD, the JPMC and the NICH on Thursday after the issuance of the federal health ministry’s notification, and some employees expressed their joy while many feared that the federal government would be unable to run these facilities.

One of the supporters of federal control of the hospitals said they had not been promoted to next grades for the last several years, while there was an acute shortage of doctors, paramedics and other staff at the JPMC and the NICH, due to which service delivery was being badly affected.

On the other hand, opponents of the move by the federal health ministry said the federal government could not run these hospitals as it lacked funds as well as expertise. They feared that service delivery at these facilities would be badly affected.

The executive director of the NICVD, the JPMC and the NICH said they had not received any notification and added that the actual position regarding the control of these hospitals would become clear after the presentation of the federal budget in the assembly.

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