LAHORE: Legislators of both treasury and opposition benches criticised the government for outsourcing matters related to the health department and not tackling matters head on. They suggested that the government itself should be outsourced as it was the only way to get things back on track.
Lawmakers reacted over the outsourcing medical labs of district headquarters (DHQs) and tehsil headquarters (THQs) of Punjab and ‘management control' of government hospitals to private hands.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) legislator Mian Muhammad Rafique sought an explanation from Minister for Primary and Secondary Health Khawaja Imran Nazeer, asking why the government was outsourcing the health department. "The government has failed in dealing with issues and that is why it is outsourcing."
Nazeer replied that the masses needed the best healthcare facilities free of charge, which the government was providing. "God knows we are doing our jobs honestly."
Rafique asked about the fate of those recruited in labs.
Pakistan Peoples Party's (PPP) Faiza Ahmed Malik said it was astonishing to see that the government had handed over the control of the tehsil headquarter hospital to Indus Hospital, a private entity. "Why did the Punjab government hand it over to a private hospital if it spent money on it?"
Nazeer clarified that only the management of the hospital has been outsourced. "There are a lot of issues relating to the health department. The government cannot solve all the problems alone. Therefore, it has joined hands with the private sector. Our aim is to provide facilities to the poor masses, leaving all other issues aside."
Malik asked how much money the Punjab government and Tayyip Erdogan Trust had spent on a block constructed at the facility. The minister said that the money was spent by the Punjab government and they have only outsourced its management to the trust.
When PML-N legislator Malik Arshad asked why hospitals were established in disaster-prone areas, the minister admitted that basic health units (BHUs) should not be set up in disaster-prone areas. "We have temporarily imposed a ban on setting up BHUs and are reviewing [policy at present."
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf legislator Dr Nausheen Hamid also suggested that trauma centres should be set up on GT Road and Motorway, where according to her, a lot of causalities take place. "It is a good suggestion and we will work on it, said the minister.
On a point of order, Dr Hamid expressed her reservation for not distributing compensation cheques to help senior actors. Minister for Human Rights and Minority Affairs Khalil Tahir Sandhu said the cheques were being distributed among actors.
The Punjab Assembly adopted two private members' resolutions and rejected one during its sitting on Tuesday. Moved by PML-N lawmakers, Hina Pervaiz Butt and Romesh Arora, the resolution recommended that the government should impose a ban on the use of prohibited injections, administered to buffaloes for increasing milk production, and extend the period of validity of official passports provided to the members of the provincial assembly.
Another resolution of PML-N legislator Sardar Ramesh Singh Arora was unanimously passed with an amendment of PPP Faiza Ahmed Malik, who proposed the official passport of the legislators should be extended to lifetime while Arora sought duration for five years.
The Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan adjourned the House till Friday 9am.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2018.