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February 14, 2020

Centre should allocate funds if it’s serious about running Karachi’s hospitals, says health minster

Karachi

February 14, 2020

Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho said Thursday that if federal government wanted to take over three hospitals in Karachi -- Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC), National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) and National Institute of Child Health (NICH) -- it should show its seriousness by allocating funds in the federal budget to run these health facilities or let the Sindh government continue operating them.

“At the moment, there is ambiguity about the status of these health facilities. Some federal authorities claim to be running these facilities while others are not showing any interest in taking over them. If the federal government wants to run these facilities, they should allocate funds to run them in their budget; otherwise, let us continue managing them,” she told a news conference at her office in Karachi.

Accompanied by Zahid Ali Abbasi, Sindh secretary health, Dr Pechuho once again demanded of the federal government to let these health facilities remain in control of the Sindh government, saying that besides allocating huge funds to run the facilities, they would also have to face several legal issues. She added that the situation regarding control of these facilities would be clear in March.

Accusing federal authorities of doing politics on the issue of the JPMC, the NICVD and the NICH, she reiterated that as per the 18th amendment, health was a provincial subject. She vowed to continue pursuing this issue in the courts and at all other relevant forums.

Commenting on the protest of senior doctors at the JPMC, the health minister said the Sindh government could not form any committee to resolve their issues until and unless the issue of ownership of these health facilities was settled. She added that they had conveyed this to protesting doctors and urged them to wait till March this year.

“Today, the secretary health spoke to the representatives of the protesting doctors and asked them to wait till March so that the situation regarding the control of these hospitals could get cleared. He also conveyed to them that at the moment, the Sindh health department could not constitute any committee and give any assurances,” she said but added that as per a court decision, no doctor or professor would be demoted nor would their grades be reversed.

She further assured the protesting doctors and professors that the provincial government would come to their rescue if they faced any problem with their employment.

On the demands of paramedics for an increase in their perks and privileges, she made it clear that the government would not be blackmailed by the paramedics after every few weeks. She added that the rising inflation was also affecting the health department and it was also facing problems with the procurement of medicines for the health facilities due to price increases.

Responding to a query about the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) whose creation had been declared null and void by the Islamabad High Court, she welcomed the court order and said that despite the restoration of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) by the court, the Sindh government would go ahead with the creation of its own medical and dental council to deal with provincial issues regarding medical education.

“We have prepared a bill to create Sindh Medical and Dental Council (SMDC), which has been forwarded to the law department for vetting. As soon as it gets cleared by the law department, we would table it in the provincial assembly for approval and enactment.”

Replying to a query about the unavailability of diagnostic equipment at the health facilities in the rural areas of the province, Dr Pechuho said they had started the procurement of diagnostic equipment worth Rs17 billion. She added that by June this year, diagnostic equipment would be procured and provided to most of the health facilities in the province.

Speaking about growing incidents of dog-bites, she maintained that controlling the canine population was the job of the municipal authorities, and added that they were only concerned about treatment, for which they had provided the anti-rabies vaccine (ARV) all over the province. To a query about novel coronavirus, named as Covid19, she said that fortunately, no case of the viral infection had been reported in the country, including Sindh. She added that around 129 cases of H1N1 influenza had been reported in the province.