KARACHI- Civil society, human rights and medical and legal profession activists have urged the federal government to construct new hospitals in Karachi city instead taking administrative control of Sindh government hospitals.
They expressed their serious concern over the federal government’s action to take over the control of three major medical facilities of Sindh, including Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) and National Institute of Child Health (NICH) located in Karachi before review petition decision.
Addressing a joint press conference at Karachi Press Club, the civil society activists termed the takeover of NICVD, NICH and JPMC by the federal government as undermining the provincial autonomy ensured under the 18th Amendment in the Constitution.
Executive Director, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) Karamat Ali and Dr Tipu Sultan of Pakistan Medical Association accompanied by other members termed it a serious matter as according to them federal government’s intervention in healthcare affairs is illegal and unconstitutional.
Those who were there included Director of Aurat Foundation Mahnaz Rahman, Faisal Edhi of Edhi Foundation, Nasir Mansoor of National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), Saeed Baloch, General Secretary of Pakistan Fisher folk Forum (PFF), Habibuddin Junaidi of Sindh Labour Solidary Committee, Nazim F Haji, female workers leader Zohra Khan and acting President of Karachi Bar Association (KBA) Adv Abid Feroz.
Prof Tipu Sultan said all three major health institutions in Karachi, under the control of provincial government of Sindh, have progressed a lot and presently all these institutions are offering free of cost state-of-the-art quality healthcare services to the common people, who come to these facilities even from other provinces across Pakistan.
Total beds for patients of Karachi are only 3,500 for a population of about 20 million people, said Dr Tipu Sultan. About 60 percent beds are owned by the private sector.
While under the control of the Federal Government, all three institutions were charging various fees for healthcare services previously, but now no fee is charged. For example, currently NICVD is offering costly cardio services like angioplasty, installation of stunts etc. free of cost to all patients, irrespective of their social status. The patients are not even charged for hospital services, food and medicines, he added.
NICVD has also extended its services to other parts of Sindh province; independent satellite NICVD centres have been established in Sukkur, Sehwan, Mithi, Nawabshah, Khairpur, Hyderabad, Tando Muhammad Khan and Larkana, said Dr Sultan.
Similarly, NICVD has established chest pain units at prominent roundabouts or under bridges and flyovers in Karachi city to provide accessible emergency services to the masses. These 24/7 Chest Pain Units equipped with all necessary equipment, doctors and paramedical staff, are located under Gulshan Chowrangi Flyover, Gulbai Flyover, Qayyumabad Chowrangi Flyover, Malir Halt Flyover, Nagan Chowrangi Flyover, Railway Road, opposite Miskeen Gali near I.I. Chandrigar Road, Sindh Government Lyari General and Teaching Hospital, Landhi and Karimabad Flyover, he added.
The civil society activists apprehended that the services of all such facilities would be affected severely after the federal government’s takeover and it is feared that the poor patients will be charged heavily as was being done in the past.
They said a review petition by Sindh government is still under pending with the Supreme Court and any such action in haste by the federal government would harm the Constitutional obligations of federal government. They appealed to the apex court to take cognizance of the matter and start proper hearing of the review petition of Sindh government as soon as possible.
They urged the federal government to exercise restraints and wait for Supreme Court’s final verdict on review petition filed by Sindh government.