KARACHI: The new ‘boss’ of the people who work at Jinnah hospital has said in court that none of the staff have been transferred nor have their salaries been frozen.
Sindh Health Secretary Hashim Raza appeared before Justices Maqbool Baqar, Faisal Arab and Sajjad Ali Shah on Monday as they heard a number of identical petitions challenging the transfer of Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre (JPMC) and the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) from the federal to the provincial government’s control.
The bench asked Sindh Additional Advocate General Sarwar Khan to come up with a concrete statement on the part of the government as it was an important case involving major health institutions. Jinnah hospital, NICVD and the children’s hospital, all located just a stone’s throw from each other, were devolved from central control after the 18th amendment came into effect. This new law gives the provinces more control over areas such as health and education but these three hospitals, the largest in Sindh, do not want to be run by the Sindh government for several reasons.
Deputy Attorney General Ashique Raza asked the court for more time to respond as the attorney general of Pakistan would argue the case.
However, right now he is busy before the Supreme Court in matters of national importance. The Sindh government’s lawyer Barrister Makhdoom Ali Khan made a similar request and the bench put off the hearing till February 13.
The hospitals have argued that the 18th constitutional amendment, which was given as the reason for their transfer to the Sindh government, was flawed. Citing the example of JPMC, the petitioners maintain that besides serving as a leading tertiary care centre, half a dozen institutes were working under its umbrella, including the hospital, the Basic Medical Sciences Institute, the College of Nursing, the School of Nursing, the College of Physiotherapy, the School of Occupational Therapy and the College of Medical Technology.
These institutions were working as autonomous organisations, serving the thousands of federal government employees besides catering to patients from all over Sindh province.
The hospitals also argued that they were being discriminated against as another hospital, the federally run Sheikh Zayed Medical Centre in Lahore was not transferred to the Punjab government after the 18th amendment and was still being run as federal institution.
There was another example of PIMS as well. Thus, the three hospitals say that the new law doesn’t mention the devolution of health as a subject.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 1st, 2012.