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September 20, 2019

Health minister asked to probe cancer drugs issue

Lahore

September 20, 2019

LAHORE :Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi has asked Health Minister to probe into non-provision of free cancer medicines, which allegedly caused death of four patients.

He was responding to a question raised by Syed Hassan Murtaza, PPP MPA during session on Thursday about denial of free drugs to thousands of cancer patients. Referring to the protest staged by cancer patients, the MPA said it was regrettable that the government stopped issuing vital medicines to cancer patients. The situation worsened and unfortunately led to alleged death of patients when the government failed to continue provision of cancer medicines to the registered patients a couple of months back.

He recalled that supply of these essential drugs had been continued without any interval during past governments. However, present rulers, whose central leader successfully established cancer hospital in the country, failed to ensure treatment of cancer patients in the province. He said who is responsible for this blunder which proved fatal for patients. Should health minister be answerable for this failure, he asked and added that education and health is fundamental right of every citizen and the government must take steps for public welfare in this regard.

Commenting on the issue, PA Speaker said that it was indeed a serious issue that cancer patients were forced to take to the streets and there were reported deaths of patients due to non-provision of vital drugs.

Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid told the House that contract of supplying cancer medicines ended by June 2018; however, pharmaceutical company was supposed to continue providing medicine in the meantime. However, she admitted that it was not the case and free issuance of medicine to some 3,300 registered patients stopped. She said the government spends Rs1.2 billion on this account annually. She was of the view that government conducted third party audit of drug distribution as it was a mandatory requirement, saying that the government did not end the contract of medicine supply and in fact it was being released to patients until a few weeks back. She informed the House that pharmaceuticalcompany had communicated to the provincial government to restore medicine supply immediately to patients. She claimed that there was no lapse on this issue by the provincial government.

Intervening in the issue, Speaker said members had consensus on this important issue as there were alleged deaths of patients in the absence of medicine supply. Members wanted to know who was responsible for the failure. He asked the health minister to probe into this important issue in order to fix responsibility. Furthermore, he said that the government should maintain stock for meeting emergency situation.

Earlier, Punjab Assembly session started about two hours late without any reason. During the session, power supply suspended abruptly, plunging house into total darkness. The electricity cut prompted some members to shout against the government’s performance. Some said that the PTI’s change was for the worse. Speaking on the occasion, Fayyaz-ul-Hassan Chohan, Minister for Colonies said that a comprehensive policy on state land had been finalised.

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