RAWALPINDI: The Punjab health department is in the process of hiring thousands of medical staff including doctors, nurses and paramedical staff across the province on merit to plug gaps in the health system. Moreover, the Punjab government aims to build five mother and child hospitals in the province.
This was disclosed by Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid after a meeting of the Rawalpindi Medical University (RMU) syndicate meeting in the garrison city.
Speaking to Daily Express, Dr Rashid disclosed that the provincial government was in the process of hiring some 7,463 doctors and 2,006 nurses through the Public Service Commission on merit. Moreover, they were also working to hire some 14,000 paramedical staff at medical institutions across the province through the National Testing Service (NTS).
Minister pledges health reforms
She further said that they are also working to solve the shortage of medical experts in hospitals and are trying to reduce the waiting time for operations. Additionally, she noted that there were currently just 280 anaesthesia specialists across the province and that they were trying to address this shortage by hire 170 trained anesthesiologists.
They will also be enhancing the salaries of these specialists to Rs0.2 million to Rs0.3 million. If they are appointed in the rural areas, they will be given an incentive of an additional Rs2,000 per case.
Moreover, she said that the provincial government was working on setting up a fund for doctors in the province with an initial seed of Rs15 million with the Health Foundation. She explained that doctors can submit their degrees to get interest-free loans of up to Rs0.7 million.
On the healthcare side, she said that Pakistan currently has the world's worst ratio for maternal and infant mortality. In this regard, the Punjab health minister said that they will be setting up five mother and child health centres across the province including Prime Minister Imran Khan's native Mianwali along with Attock, Bahawalnagar, Rajanpur and Layyah.
Criticising the past Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz's (PML-N) policy of centralised medicine procurement for public sector health centres in the province, Dr Rashid said that the policy only resulted in filling warehouses in industrial estates.
She noted that they were now trying to bring these medicines out of their storage spaces and into hospitals. Moreover, they have now altered the policy, empowering each district to individually procure the medicines they need while the budget for medicines has been set at Rs10 billion.
"Our aim is that all basic health units remain open 24 hours a day," Dr Rashid said.
The Punjab health minister added that in the past 100-days of their government, they have devised five-year and 10-year plans to address health issues in the province.
Earlier, the RMU's syndicate approved the budgets for the varsity, the three allied hospitals and nursing schools. Budgets were approved for fiscal years 2017-18 and 2018-19 worth Rs4.43 billion and Rs2.33 billion (for the first four months of the current fiscal year) respectively.
The meeting deliberated on a further Rs3 billion for the remaining eight months of the ongoing fiscal year. However, it was decided to pay all past dues of the hospital from its current budget.
The syndicate, which met at the new teaching block of the varsity, also extended contracts of all non-gazette employees of the hospital and approved a motion to amend the laws for the hiring of additional staff.
The temporary appointment of boiler engineers for the Holy Family Hospital was also approved.
It was decided that two vehicles will be procured to ease movement of the varsity's students.
The varsity's apex decision-making body noted that since the RMU had been formed, the Rawalpindi Medical College must have a separate identity and approved a motion to send a request to the government in this regard.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2018.
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