KARACHI: The Supreme Court (SC) expressed on Saturday its dissatisfaction over the reports submitted by the medical superintendents of different government hospitals regarding conditions of public hospitals in the province.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar was hearing a suo motu case regarding poor conditions of government hospitals in Sindh at the SC's Karachi Registry.
Also comprising justices Faisal Arab and Sajjad Ali Shah, the bench remarked that it had learnt that Health Secretary Fazlullah Pechuho had retained the entire budget allocated for the department.
Justice Nisar told Pechuho that the reports being received from the medical superintendents regarding conditions at the public hospitals were not satisfactory and asked him when these conditions will be improved. The secretary said he had given the hospitals’ managements a deadline by which they had to improve the conditions of their institutions, assuring that this would be completed.
To the court’s query, Pechuho said public hospitals were being provided funds. However, he replied in the negative when asked whether the funds had been centralised.
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The CJP also found a report regarding availability of teaching facilities at Jinnah Medical and Dental College dissatisfactory and issued notices to its management to furnish an explanation in this regard.
He inquired why the proformas of medical colleges had not yet been completed and directed the health secretary to ensure it was done within three days.
Pechuho promised to do so, adding that he would inspect Sir Syed Medical College to check the availability of the required facilities and submit his report at the earliest.
The CJP also inquired from Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) Executive Director Dr Seemin Jamali about rising complaints regarding theft of medicines from the hospital and their sale in the market. Jamali explained that JPMC was facing administrative issues due to devolution of the federal health facility to the province after the 18th Amendment, which had appealed against nullification of the devolution. She said fresh appointments could not be made due to the litigation, which had been pending at the SC for a long time.
She added that only four professors were available, against the sanctioned strength of 28.
The CJP told her to submit her personal affidavit on whether all the required facilities were available at the hospital.
Justice Nisar remarked that he had learnt that the health secretary, a brother-in-law of former president and Pakistan Peoples Party Co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, was a very influential person. “If your dears are not giving you your rights, we will get it for you,” the top judge told the secretary.
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The CJP said he wanted all machines to be available and tests conducted at every government hospital.
He asked the officers who was responsible for providing clean drinking water to the schools, if they could not provide even basic facilities at schools and hospitals.
He noted that the doctors were the main tool in the healthcare sectors. Justice Nisar directed the health secretary to visit Sir Syed Medical College and submit an inspection report to the court within two weeks.
After the hearing the CJP visited JPMC, where he toured the accident and emergency room, as well as various other wards such as the radiology department, neurosurgery ICU and Cyberknife facility. The CJP also inquired about health facilities at the hospital, asking patients if they were getting properly looked after, to which most of the patients replied in a positive manner.
Some patients, however, expressed concern over the lack of facilities at the hospital, such as drinking water and poor hygiene conditions. They also complained in the delay in appointments for CT scans and MRIs.
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Jamali briefed the top judge that after the 18th Amendment, the status of the JPMC has been uncertain as the federal and provincial governments have been fighting the case in court for some time.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Jamali said the CJP appreciated the efforts being taken at the hospital and directed them to further improve their services for the betterment of the patients.
The CJP was surprised and appreciated the efforts being put-up by public private partners to run the radiology department and the development work being carried out to build new wards.
Justice Nisar assured the director that he will expedite the case as soon as he could, asking, "Is JPMC the same hospital where prisoners are transferred to from jails?" He was told that this is indeed the same hospital where prisoners like Sharjeel Memon and Shahrukh Jatoi were kept.