It was long overdue that the highest judicial authority in the country summoned government servants over the deplorable state of affairs when it comes to health and quality of life. For decades, politicians have been equivocating when questioned about what accomplishments they have to show for their leadership as they have done little to nothing in terms of improving citizens’ well-being. As such, it is refreshing to learn of the Supreme Court’s subpoena for Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif over contaminated water supply to residents of Lahore as well as dilapidated healthcare facilities.
Basic human rights on one side, it is also an environmental violation that the Ravi River continues to receive an influx of polluted water. Only an intelligent government would be able to foresee that human exposure to polluted water can give rise to multiple ailments and genetic mutations, which will eventually take an even bigger toll on the provincial public healthcare expenditure than it does now. The bigwigs of industry and politics, who do as they please without any concern for the regular citizens around them, must be fined heavily for foul waste practices that pollute public waters.
On the topic of healthcare and public hospitals, adhoc steps will not work. A hospital is a place where sickness proliferates, with mosquitoes and cockroaches almost regular features in many. Now that the SC is ultimately taking notice, a standardised healthcare system should be developed. The country cannot survive on international donations and continue erecting subsidised public hospitals that are primarily dependent on philanthropic gestures as that is not a sustainable system. The ubiquitous dearth of hospital facilities has rendered free hospitals successful thus far but the provincial leadership should come up with better plans. We will continue welcoming the scrutiny by the SC across Sindh and Punjab, which house approximately 76 per cent of the country’s entire population, until the leadership of the two provinces standardise healthcare and implement safe practices when it comes to waste water, pollution and hygiene.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 12th, 2018.