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Wednesday December 08, 2021

‘Centre eyeing Karachi hospitals instead of helping Sindh fight COVID-19

June 16, 2020

Instead of helping Sindh in its fight against COVID-19, the federal government has been trying to wrest control of three major public hospitals in Karachi again, the provincial government’s spokesman said on Monday.

Barrister Murtaza Wahab, who is also the chief minister’s law and environment adviser, was addressing a news conference on the issue of the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD), the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) and the National Institute of Child Health.

Wahab lamented that at such a critical time when the novel coronavirus infection rate is at its peak in the country, instead of improving healthcare facilities in the province, the federal government is interfering in the domain of the provincial administration.

“You [the federal authorities] are supposed to support the Sindh government, but you’re interfering instead and causing hindrances. I, on behalf of the people of Pakistan, say that it’s not the time to take back, but rather to give.”

He said the provincial government has repeatedly suggested to the federal administration that they should work together. However, he added, the Centre’s actions have been contrary to Sindh’s proposal.

The spokesman said that owing to various reasons, the Centre was yet to fulfil the requirements to assume control of Karachi’s three major public hospitals that had been laid down by the apex judiciary.

He said the Sindh government had established satellite centres and chest pain units affiliated with the NICVD. He also said the chest pain units were set up in 12 different parts of the city and hundreds of thousands of people had been treated by these facilities.

Wahab said the JPMC had been in a shambles in the past, but now state-of-the-art treatment facilities, such as the CyberKnife, were available at the hospital free of charge for people from all over the country.

He said that the combined annual budget of the three hospitals being eyed by the Centre used to be Rs1 billion, which was increased by the Sindh government to Rs16-17 billion for providing the best healthcare facilities to the people of the province.

“Not a single letter has been written by the federal government to us to ask about the expenditures of these three hospitals,” said Wahab, adding that the Centre had written to them last year that they could not assume control of the hospitals due to its financial constraints.

He said that on the one hand the Centre had been claiming they were facing financial troubles, but on the other, all of a sudden they wrote on Saturday to inform that they would assume control of the health facilities. “It seems that instead of fighting against corona, the federal government is more willing to fight with the Sindh government. Our priority should be corona at the moment.”