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May 26, 2019

Young doctors to observe black day against takeover of Karachi hospitals

Karachi

May 26, 2019

Sindh’s young doctors have rejected the federal government’s notification regarding the restoration of federal status of Karachi’s three major hospitals — Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC), the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) and the National Institute of Child Health (NICH) — and announced they would observe a black day at all public hospitals in the province on Monday.

Young doctors said the federal government was facing an acute shortage of resources and even their own officials were puzzled how they would allocate financial and material resources to run these hospitals effectively, adding that this move by the PTI-led federal government would adversely affect service delivery at these hospitals and increase the sufferings of patients.

“The Young Doctors Association (YDA) Sindh strongly condemns the notification by the federal government regarding the restoration of the federal status of the JPMC, NICVD and NICH, and terms it an anti-health-care and anti-patient move.

“We believe that this move by the PTI-led federal government will result in poor service delivery at these hospitals, and it will also cause poor patients suffering in Sindh,” Chairman YDA Sindh Dr Umer Sultan said while he talking to The News on Saturday. Citing the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s directives and approval from the federal cabinet, the Federal Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, through a notification on May 22, had announced to assume control of Sindh’s three major hospitals with their components, assets and manpower which drew strong criticism from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

The chairman of the YDA Sindh maintained that after the devolution, the provincial government had made huge investments in expanding the networks of these three hospitals and transformed them into strong healthcare networks which were now serving millions of people of not only from Sindh but also from other provinces, adding that if these hospitals were taken over the by the federal government they would ruin them just like hospitals in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab.

“The NICVD had just a few hundred beds and patients used to pay for every service when it was under the federal control, but now it is a network of nine hospitals spread across Sindh and it has one of the best chest pain programme which is saving thousands of lives annually. We believe that if this system is taken over by the federal government, their incompetence would ruin the health network,” Sultan claimed.

He said similarly, the JPMC was now going to had the second CyberKnife Robotic system, it had acquired the PET Scan facility and improved healthcare facilities, adding that the NICH had also expanded its services to Mithi where pediatricians were saving dozens of lives of children and all this happened only after devolution.

Condemning the federal government’s notification without waiting for the review petition before the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Sultan said they were going to observe ‘black day’, and vowed to continue protest till the move was reversed by the federal authorities.

Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had condemned the taking over of the three the hospitals by the federal government and termed it as an attack on provincial autonomy.

Soon after the issuing of the federal government’s notification, Bhutto said the people of Sindh had invested billions of rupees in the revolutionary improvements in the JPMC, NICVD and NICH after those hospitals had been handed over to the province under the 18th Amendment in the Constitution.

“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.

Shah had asked the federal government to withdraw its notification, and criticised the federal government’s notification on Friday while presiding over a meeting at the CM House. He said the Centre had created uncertainty by issuing the notification.

“This decision has created a panic-like situation and uncertainty which is bound to affect the performance of these best institutes,” the CM remarked, adding that the Ministry of National Health Services was supposed to hold preparatory meetings with the provincial government to work out modalities as directed by the Supreme Court but no such meeting was held.

“I am surprised that no such intimation of taking over the health facilities have been communicated to the hospitals’ administration,” he said. The CM said the provincial government had filed a review petition with the SC and the federal government should have waited till the court had decided on the review petition.

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