ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) has asked the chief justice of the Supreme Court to take suo motu notice in the public interest and restrict politicians, bureaucrats and their families from seeking medical treatment outside the country.

The association, which is a representative body of physicians, has decided to write to the national and provincial assemblies seeking legislation that states that politicians and bureaucrats should only get medical treatment at public sector hospitals.

PMA Secretary General Dr Qaisar Sajjad, while speaking to Dawn, blamed politicians and bureaucrats for the dismal condition of public sector hospitals in the country.

“Prominent politicians and government office holders such as the prime minister, chief ministers, ministers and parliamentarians prefer to go abroad for medical checkups and treatment for medical problems that can be treated in Pakistan without any complications,” he said.

He added: “On the other hand, those bureaucrats who cannot get permission for medical treatment abroad get treated at private hospitals and then reimburse the bill. Because of this practice, both politicians and bureaucrats do not care about the quality of services at public sector hospitals.”

Dr Sajjad said that if the SC directs the government to ensure that politicians and bureaucrats are treated at public sector hospitals, they will begin to care about the quality of treatment.

If the health minister is aware that his family will get their blood tested at a lap at a public sector hospital, the quality of labs will definitely improve, and private laboratories will not crop up around public sector hospitals, he said.

While discussing Kulsoom Nawaz’ visit to the United Kingdom for a medical examination, Dr Sajjad said treatment for lymphoma is available in Pakistan, where there are many good oncologists.

“Unfortunately, when the family of the former premier, whose party is ruling in the centre and Punjab, gets treatment abroad, others also stop trusting Pakistani hospitals,” he said.

Dr Sajjad said legislation should be passed that bars politicians, government officials and bureaucrats from seeking treatment abroad, which would only be permitted if specific treatment is not available in Pakistan.

He said this was the only way the healthcare system could improve and the poor would also benefit.

Published in Dawn, August 28th, 2017

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