Centre takes control of three major health facilities in Karachi

Following the orders of Supreme Court

Our Correspondent May 24, 2019
File photo of PM Imran Khan chairing federal cabinet meeting. PHOTO: PID

KARACHI: The Federal government assumed the control of Karachi’s three major health facilities - Jinnah Post-Graduate Medical Centre (JPMC), National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) and National Institute of Child Health (NICH) - following a notification issued by the Federal Ministry of National Health Services and Coordination on Thursday.

The notification was issued after the Federal Cabinet in its meeting on April 2 decided to take over the control of the three major health facilities following the orders of Supreme Court.

According to the notification, all administrational affairs of these three hospitals will now be managed by the Federal Ministry of National Health Services and Coordination and the staff and employees of the hospitals will work under the federal government.

According to the sources, the details of the employees of these hospitals have already been acquired by the relevant ministry and the current management of the hospitals have been told to provide the details of the assets of the hospitals in the second phase.

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The sources in the federal and provincial governments say that it would take at least two months to complete exercise relating to the transfer of all affairs related to the hospitals to the Federal ministry.

The Supreme Court had on January 16 rejected a set of appeals, including one filed by the Sindh government, claiming the ownership of three major hospitals in Karachi in the wake of devolution of the health sector under the 18th Amendment. Therefore, according to the decision, the control of the three hospitals will continue to remain with the federal government.

The Sindh government and the health institutions had pleaded before the apex court that since the subject of health had been devolved to the provinces under the 18th Amendment, the management of JPMC, NICVD and NICH vested with the Sindh government.

The Sindh government had challenged July 4, 2016 order of the Sindh High Court (SHC) which said that three health facilities would remain under the exclusive domain of the federal government.

The SHC had declared the transfer of the hospitals to the Sindh province unconstitutional.

In an earlier hearing at the apex court, the then Chief Justice Saqib Nisar had observed that there was no legal bar on the federal government from establishing hospitals in the provincial territory, adding that location was not relevant in this regard.

The SHC in its order of July 4, 2016 had capped a five-year-long controversy over the devolution of the JPMC, NICVD, NICH, and the National Museum, declaring that devolution to the province unconstitutional.

“The purported transfer of the institutions failed on the constitutional plane and was unlawful,” the SHC held in its order restoring the three healthcare institutions to their positions as on June 29, 2011.

The SHC had also suspended the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (Sindh Administration) Act, 2014 as contrary to the Constitution.

Meanwhile, some officials in the Sindh government expressed their surprise over the notification claiming the government of Sindh had already filed a review petition which is pending before the apex court.

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Bilawal reacts

The Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, has expressed extreme reservations on the federal government’s decision to take over the charge of Karachi’s three major hospitals.

In a statement issued on Thursday evening, he demanded that the federal government should take its notification back immediately, adding that the step taken by Pakistan Teehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) is a serious attack on the 18th Amendment and provincial autonomy.

Bilawal Bhutto also announced that his party would protest against this decision on every forum. He also warned the federal government that it should take its notification back or face the public outrage.

He said that federal government was in such a hurry to takeover the hospitals that it didn’t wait for the order of Supreme Court over the review petition filed by the Sindh government.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2019.


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