PTI chief Imran Khan said changes in the management of government-run health facilities and provision of suitable working conditions to the doctors was essential to bring reforms to the provincial health sector.
He was addressing the media after launching a fundraising campaign for Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Center in the city on Saturday.
Imran said he was willing to meet doctors opposing the implementation of Medical Teaching Institutions (MTI) Reforms Act 2015.
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“However, I am not willing to surrender to their demands to prevent the act from coming into force,” he said.
Imran said after consulting doctors, the government had worked for eight months to draft the MTI Reforms Act but had failed to implement it since a particular group of doctors obtained stay orders against the legislation in the court of law.
“I am ready to talk to and meet anyone - even the chief justice if need be – to ensure PTI sticks to the word it gave to the public,” Imran asserted.
The PTI supremo said he was also ready to support the genuine demands of the agitators, but was not ready to negotiate regarding MTI Reforms Act’s enforcement.
“PTI had promised the public that it will bring about changes in K-P’s health reforms and MTI Reforms Act with its aim to alter and better the health sector was a crucial step,” he said. Imran added he had to answer people and surrendering to a few doctors cannot prevent the implementation of reforms in the provincial health sector.
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He also said barring a few doctors who obtained stay orders, the majority was in favour of the reforms. “If we can build a hospital that is at par with international standards, there is no reason why we cannot upgrade government hospitals to provide suitable health facilities to the public,” Imran added.
PTI chief said Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital in K-P will reduce the burden on the facility currently being run in Lahore. “Around 23% of the patients at Lahore’s facility belong to K-P, tribal areas and neighbouring Afghanistan,” he said. Imran added land had been acquired for the third facility to be constructed in Karachi.
At least Rs320 million had been spent on Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital in the provincial capital but Rs800 million was still required for its completion. “Some departments including chemotherapy will be functional by December 29 and others such as the surgical facility will be inaugurated next year,” he added.
Imran thanked Awami National Party-led former provincial government for providing land for the hospital despite being in the opposition. “Former chief minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti will be invited to the inauguration ceremony.”
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Earlier in the day, Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital Chief Executive Dr Faisal Sultan briefed the media and said, “The aim of the facility was to treat cancer patients irrespective of their ability to pay.”
Solidarity: PDF condemns PTI chief’s remarks
Peoples Doctors Forum (PDF) strongly condemned PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s remarks against the doctors’ fraternity in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
According to a statement issued on Saturday, PDF Spokesperson Dr Daud Iqbal said doctors had serious reservations against the MTI Reforms Act and had voiced their concerns regarding the legislation. “Since our demands were not met, we appealed to the court which annoyed PTI chief who labelled us a ‘mafia’ and made derogatory remarks against us,” he said.
He added the clauses of MTI Reforms Act be reviewed for the larger interest of patients and doctors. “The government was constitutionally bound to provide free medical service to patients and the reforms made by this act in the public hospitals will hardly serve public interest,” he said. Expressing his reservations regarding the board of governors of teaching hospitals in the province, Iqbal said members were chosen according to political grounds rather than merit. “Transparency will only come about if the government publishes advertisements for appointing BoG members who were independent and committed to serving people,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 8th, 2015.
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