KARACHI: The Sindh government’s decision to affiliate Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre with the newly created Jinnah-Sindh Medical University has not gone down well with the staff at the largest state-run healthcare facility in Pakistan.
Already worked up by the authorities wanting the hospital to be with the provincial government post-devolution, the staff are reluctant to be “under” any other institution than their own.
In a meeting held at the Governor House last Wednesday, it was decided that the newly established Sindh Medical University would be renamed Jinnah-Sindh Medical University and affiliated with JPMC, which would serve as its constituent hospital.
The allied National Institute of Child Health and National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases were also to be affiliated with the new university.
“The matter is sub judice so they [authorities] cannot take any decision about us. It’s in violation of the court order,” a senior official from the Jinnah hospital administration remarked. “They are trying to make us an autonomous body but they cannot do it because we already have a federal status.”
He was disappointed that no one from the administration was taken into the loop on the decision. “We are the parent institution and refuse to go under any other set-up,” he said, before adding, “Our hospital is a mini-Pakistan where employees from all backgrounds work despite the city’s polarisation.” The SMU should be affiliated with another hospital, as JPMC would like to retain its status as an autonomous body.
Dr Kaleem Shaikh, who is the hospital’s MLO and also an employee of the Sindh government, said that it was in the interest of JPMC and its patients to have the hospital retain its current status.
While answering questions about the court case, SMU vice chancellor Prof Tariq Rafi clarified that the court had given JPMC a stay order only to make sure that its employees would not be treated as regular provincial government employees and not be transferred to other departments. “While the matter is sub judice, the hospital staff is taking its salary and directions from the Sindh government. They are [already] technically a provincial subject,” opined Prof Rafi.
“The college cannot be raised to a university status because it lacks the faculty,” he said casting doubts over the teachers at the new university. The hospital workers are waiting for the court order and will not accept any affiliation,” objected the JPMC official.
Provincial health secretary Aftab Khatri clarified that the JPMC administration has no authority to decide such issues. “The relevant authorities are working on the issue,” was all he was ready to say. The JPMC official added that the hospital would wait for the court’s order and will not accept any affiliation with the new university.
Concerns about admission policy
The hospital administration also has reservations over the admission policy announced by the Sindh Medical University, according to which only students from Karachi are eligible to apply for its MBBS 2012 session.
The admission policy is decided by the province and not by any public university itself, countered Prof Tariq Rafi. It is the same as for all medical colleges in the country.
According to Sindh’s policy, 45 seats in Karachi go to students from rural Sindh and the same number of students moves in the opposite direction. Twenty-two students from rural areas get admission to the Dow Medical College while 23 go to the Sindh Medical College.
“Our policy will remain the same as previous years,” said Prof Rafi. “If today the government announces open merit admissions for Sindh, we will start taking students on open merit.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 5th, 2012.