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Sindh gets back hospitals

It was a matter of inflated egos in Islamabad, which triggered the unnecessary issue, otherwise the Sindh government fully deserved to run the hospitals at the centre of the storm last month. The months-long feud over the functional control of three hospitals – the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICD) and National Institute of Child Health (NICH) – came to end the last week when the Centre handed over the control of the three hospitals to the Sindh government after approval by the cabinet. The move does not carry a goodwill gesture from the federal government as Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza said the decision was taken mainly due to financial constraints the federal government is facing right now.
The Sindh government had been running the three hospitals with special attention towards them since 2010, when the health sector was declared a provincial subject after the passage of the 18th Amendment, until 2016 when the Sindh High Court ordered the Sindh government to hand over the control to the federal government on a petition by their employees. Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah vowed to use all forums to resist the Centre’s move to take over the three major hospitals and also moved a review petition in the Supreme Coturt after the court rejected their appeal and the authorities in Islamabad notified the takeover of the three hospitals.
The issue gained political significance when the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Sindh chapter celebrated winning the control of the PPP’s flagship healthcare institutions, while PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari criticized the federal government for ‘snatching’ their premier hospitals. The Sindh government had invested huge amounts on the expansion and improvement of the three hospitals. Eight satellites centers of the NICVD were set up in the last three years in various districts of Sindh. More districts were on the waiting list. The emergency department in the JPMC and its Cyber Knife project had already begun functioning, which also won praise from former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar.
The Sindh government has welcomed the decision, calling it the endorsement of the just stance by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Hopefully, the PPP will continue with their expansion to other districts. The model deserves applaud for targeting off-the-capital areas. Also, the government must focus on other health facilities, which are the first contact of the public. The party can claim the real success when its very health facility from taulka dispensary to tehsil, district and divisional level hospitals are exemplary and patient-friendly.



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