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Saturday Jun 13 2020

Govt allocates Rs14.18bn in budget 2020-21 to run three Karachi hospitals

Photo: File

KARACHI: The federal government on Friday decided to take over and run three main hospitals in Karachi — the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD), Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) and the National Institute of Child Health (NICH) — and has allocated over Rs14 billion in the federal budget 2020-21 to run these facilities, reports The News. 

“The federal government has finally allocated a budget to run Karachi’s three hospitals as well as Shaikh Zaid Hospital Lahore after the Supreme Court of Pakistan asked them to take over these facilities. The Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination is likely to assume control and run these facilities from July onwards,” Dr Zafar Mirza, special assistant to the prime minister on health services told The News.

The control of JPMC, NICVD and NICH had been a bone of contention between the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led federal government and the Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government, and both the parties had approached the Sindh High Court and then the Supreme Court for gaining control of these facilities.

The Supreme Court has decided in favour of the federal authorities and asked them to assume control of these facilities at the earliest, while the Sindh government has filed a review petition seeking reversal of the decision.

Dr Mirza said the federal government had “no other option left but to take over” these health facilities following the SC judgment. He added that the allocation of funds in the federal budget to run the three hospitals was also made as per the verdict of the apex court.

When asked when the Ministry of National Health Services was going to take over these facilities, he responded: “As soon as possible." 

He said that because of the prevailing crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they were unable to appraise the health facilities and the provincial government of the decisions.

Sindh’s stance

The Sindh health department, when approached, said they were unaware of the latest position of the federal authorities regarding the three Karachi hospitals, saying the federal health authorities had not yet hinted at taking them over in the days to come.

“Earlier this year, PM Imran Khan had told the Sindh CM that they are not interested in running Karachi’s hospitals. Now we are learning that funds have been allocated in the federal budget. We are not aware of what is going on, but the situation would get clear in the coming days,” an official of the Sindh government said, adding that provincial government would await the outcome of its review petition in the Supreme Court in any case.

Rs14.18bn allocated

According to the statement for the federal budget 2020-21, the federal government has allocated Rs14.189 billion to run the three hospitals — Rs9.242 billion for the NICVD, Rs3.877 billion for the JPMC and Rs1.070 billion NICH.

NICH budget

Of the Rs1.070 billion earmarked for the NICH, Rs565 million have been allocated for employees- related expenses, including Rs138 million for the pay of 528 officers and Rs86 million for the salaries of 507 other staff members.

As per the budget statement, Rs313.4 million have been earmarked for the operating expenses of the hospital, while Rs46.8 million have been kept for the repair and maintenance of the building and equipment at the health facility.

Talking to The News, Director NICH Dr Jamal Raza said although they had been informed about the change of their status by the federal government, the budget earmarked by the federal authorities was half of what they had demanded to serve a growing number of patients from entire Pakistan.

Money for NICVD

The biggest chunk of the federal health allocation has been reserved for the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, shows the federal budget statement.

It says Rs9.242 billion would be spent on running the NICVD Karachi, its satellites and chest pain units in Sindh.

Allocation for JPMC

The federal government has earmarked Rs3.877 billion for the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, says the federal budget statement.

According to the statement, Rs1.375 billion will be spent on employees-related expenses, including Rs281.8 million for the salaries of 1,237 officers and Rs281.3 million on the salaries of 1,602 other staff.

The federal government has earmarked Rs1.54 billion for the operating expenses of the JPMC, of which Rs158.7 million would be utilised for repair and maintenance.

Originally published in The News