Public good behind Punjab health reforms: Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan  

Associated Press of Pakistan September 8, 2019

LAHORE: Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan has said that Punjab health reforms through Medial Teaching Institutions (MTI) Act 2019 would bring about tangible improvement in the life of common man.

Addressing a press conference to clarify ambiguities engulfing MTI health reforms alongside Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid and Information Minister Mian Aslam Iqbal at the DGPR on Saturday, she said it was a misnomer that the teaching hospitals in Punjab were being privatized, adding the reforms were aimed at making hospitals and doctors accountable to the government and provide services to the public.

Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said MTI reforms would ensure performance audit of the doctors and financial audit of the hospitals, adding that the hospitals will not be privatized while doctors would enjoy same status as before. “However, the services of doctors showing poor performance could be terminated by the Board of Governors (BoG)”, she added.

She said as per vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan public budget should be spent as per the aspirations of the people. She said a certain section had created confusion regarding the health reforms in Punjab and the record must be set right for good on the matter.

To a question, she said not a single hospital of international standard was built in past during the governments of PML-N in the province, adding the former rulers always went abroad for medical treatment.

To a query, she regretted high handedness of police in different incidents, adding police reforms in Punjab would bring about change in the mind set of people.

Addressing the press conference, Punjab Information Minister Mian Aslam Iqbal said there were 49,000 beds in public teaching hospitals in the province, adding Rs 4.5 million per bed were being spent in the Secondary Health department annually while the cost was Rs 3.5 million per bed in the Primary Health.    The provincial information minister said the doctors did not do their duties fully in the past due to bad governance and lack of proper check and balance.

He said it was the change which has been reason of trouble for the work-shirkers and poor performers. The minister said One Line budget will be given to the BoGs to make their own decision rapidly so that the patients could get maximum relief without delay.

Health Minister Punjab Dr Yasmin Rashid said the status of doctors as civil servants would not change under the MTI reforms, adding that they will be governed by the same pension and GP Fund deductions. They could register their grievances against the BoG at two forums, but the salary package of those who opt for the new service structure would enhance a great deal.

She said despite spending huge amount of money people were not getting best medical facilities due to poor governance in these hospitals, and that is why the Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar’s government had decided to constitute BoGs to judge performance of the doctors.

Punjab Health Reforms Act 2003 did not allow any administrative or financial autonomy to the hospitals, adding restructuring of medical institutions was required.

She said every person will have to be accountable under the new Act. The Minister said the performance audit of the hospitals and doctors will be presented before Punjab Assembly every year.

She said the appointment of medical director, hospital director and nursing director would help provide better services in the hospitals, adding the hospitals were without right number of nurses in the hospitals.

To a question, she said, under the MTI law, the public hospital were drawn away from the realm of the privileged to the world of the common man, claiming no admission fee will be charged at the hospitals in the wake of BoGs and all kind of treatment will be free. She said facilitation desks would be set up at all hospitals from now onwards.

She said the MTI act was about accountability of public money being spent on the public hospitals, adding no health facilities were apparent in government hospitals despite spending Rs 4.5 million on one bed.

Responding to a question, she said the health card holders should go to the hospitals on the panel to avoid inconvenience, adding 100 more hospitals would be added to the panel in the next two months.

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