Three years after the passing of a law for the establishment of the Sindh Institute of Child Health and Neonatology (SICHN), Karachi, the provincial health department has finally notified the appointment of eminent pediatrician Prof Dr Jamal Raza as executive director of the institute for three years, but it did not provide a building or facility to start the facility.
The provincial legislature had passed the bill for the establishment of the SICHN in January 2019 after the Supreme Court had ruled that Karachi’s three major health facilities, including the National Institute of Child Health (NICH), should be handed over the federal government, but since the apex court’s decision was not followed, the Sindh government made no progress in making the SICHN functional.
Although no hospital or health facility has so far been handed over to the SICHN anywhere in the province, the government on Tuesday appointed he former NICK director as its executive director for three years on a search committee’s recommendation for his appointment last year.
“Now that authorities have notified my appointment as executive director of the SICHN, I will try to establish paediatric health facilities in Karachi and other districts of Sindh, where there is an urgent need for such hospitals,” Prof Raza told The News.
He said that initially the government had committed itself to handing over a new building at the Sindh Government Hospital Korangi No. 5 to the SICHN. He added that they would try to get more health facilities in Karachi and other districts to provide better health facilities for children.
“The major issue is financial and administrative authority, and we immediately need funds and autonomy on the pattern of the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) to establish our centres across Sindh, purchase equipment and make appointments of staff.”
Prof Raza said that according to the new law, technical expertise and trained human resource would be provided to all child emergency centres established in different health facilities of the provincial government.
SICHN as research institute
The Sindh Institute of Child Health and Neonatology Act 2018 states that the institute will strive for the development of molecular science and genetic research for diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive purposes for all disorders affecting children.
It will also undertake postgraduate teaching programs such as FCPS, MS, MD, PhD as well as diplomas in paediatrics, neonatology and other relevant fields in collaboration with the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan and a university of medical or health sciences recognised by the Higher Education Commission or the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council.
The institute will also undertake trainings of nursing and paramedical staff, including technicians, in the field of pediatrics, neonatology and relevant emergency medicine. Its academic council will perform duties as may be assigned to it by the board under this act.
“The academic council shall consist of an executive director [who shall be its chairperson] and all professors and associate professors of the institute,” the law states. As per the law, the chief minister will be chief patron of the institute, which will be run by a board headed by the health minister.
Meanwhile, the members will comprise the health and finance secretaries, a nominee of the Pakistan Paediatrics Association, and three others with a background of finance, audit, law or paediatrics nominated by the CM and two members -- one each from the treasury and other opposition benches nominated by the Sindh Assembly speaker.
The law states that the board will enjoy control over the administration of the institute’s property, funds and resources and borrow and raise money for it. It will also create, suspend and abolish posts and guide on questions of policy. The executive director, to be appointed by the government, will manage the affairs of the institute.