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LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Wednesday that the country’s pharma industry possesses potential to fetch foreign exchange through exports of medicines and the government will facilitate the industry to achieve the target.

While addressing the Insaf Doctors Forum convention here at Aiwan-e-Iqbal, the premier said India is exporting drugs worth Rs 40 billion but our share in medicines exports is very minimal.

Lauding the services of doctors and paramedics in the country's fight against coronavirus pandemic, the premier said there is apprehension of second wave of Covid-19 and the cities like Karachi, Lahore, Gujranwala and Peshawar are facing more threat due to pollution/smog. He said there was need of following Corona SOPs in letter and spirit during next two months.

"Pakistan is still fighting a big war against Covid-19,” he said. “Healthcare professionals and workers rendered valuable services when the virus was at its peak in June last year.” He credited doctors, nurses and medical workers for "facing such hard times", adding that they are the ones who face "real pressure" when the going gets tough.

Criticising the Opposition, Imran said that all those with "vested interests" and "pick pockets" had gathered together because they are seeing for the first time ever that they will be held accountable for their treacherous attitude towards the country. They know there is a prime minister who will not be blackmailed and will hold them accountable." He said these were the country's "defining moments" and the mafia stopping Pakistan's progress will be in jails.

Lamenting the state of affairs of government hospitals, the premier said that absence of vibrant accountability process has damaged our society. He said, "My entire family including myself were born in Mayo Hospital.” He said that the condition of government hospitals deteriorated when government institutions were nationalised. "Ever since God created this world, whenever the system of reward and punishment is abolished, that system goes down.” “Why should I work hard when I get the same money as another doctor who does not work at all?” he questioned. He said that the MTI Act is a reform process instead of privatisation of hospitals. He also mentioned about Insaf Sehat Card and asked for expediting its distribution across the province.

Talking about the implementation of reforms in hospitals, Imran said small groups of influential people were present in every government hospital. "They had contacts with judges of high courts and obtained stay orders. A lawyer used to represent all of them [mafia with vested interests] who used to get stay orders. There were obstacles in every path.” However, he said that "change has arrived", adding that the KPK government had set up plenty of "quality buildings" such as the Hayatabad Medical Complex and other medical institutions.

He vowed that the process of bringing reforms in the hospitals of the country will be completed at all costs. He said that Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital Lahore and Peshawar have earned Joint Commission International's Gold Seal of Approval. He said almost 75 per cent of patients are being treated free of cost at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital.

Regarding Naya Pakistan rhetoric, the premier said that he was tired of people asking him where was Naya Pakistan. "I am tired of explaining that Naya Pakistan is not a switch,” he said. “[They expect] a government to come into power, press a switch and everything solves by itself. This only happens in fairy tales. In real life, a reform process comes about as a result of a struggle,” he added. He said that everyone have to struggle and play his role for bringing change in real sense.

He asked the youngsters to study the life of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as a role model and his achievements in establishing the State of Medina. “I see youngsters today reading books on Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. They do this as they want to be successful like him. You should read about the life of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as he was able to achieve what no other man before or after him was able to.”

Earlier, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar called on Prime Minister Imran Khan and apprised him about prices and availability of essential commodities in the province.

During the meeting, matters pertaining to affairs of Punjab, political issues and other matters came under discussion, the sources said. “The premier asked the CM to focus his energies on checking price hike and extending relief to the masses.”

The prime minister also held a meeting about local government system and issuance of health cards in Punjab. The PM was informed about projects being undertaken by the LG&CD about provision of facilities to the masses at local level. The PM directed to expedite completion of such projects at the earliest.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020