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LAHORE: Tahmina Durrani, wife of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who spares no chance to target ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif for any of his ‘wrongdoing’, does not see her husband at fault for two back-to-back incidents in which two women gave birth on road in Lahore last week.

“The two mothers who gave birth on our streets made a powerful protest... a call to political parties. Learn the goal - a social welfare state,” Durrani tweeted. But she chose not to say a word on the neglect of health sector by her husband in the province that is widely blamed for such incidents.

Durrani not only had expressed her anger at Nawaz Sharif for entrusting Shahbaz Sharif with protecting and assisting his own party’s four-day rally from Islamabad to Lahore after his disqualification in Panama Papers case but also held Nawaz’s “immature advisers” responsible for his ouster.

Speaking about ‘soft comment’ of Ms Durrani, a PML-N leader said: “In fact Ms Duranni often speaks on behalf of Shahbaz Sharif when it comes to finding fault with the policies of Nawaz Sharif. It is terrible to see women giving birth to babies [on road] as the health sector has been ignored for the last many years.”

Shahbaz Sharif had come up with a comment on his twitter handle about the report of denial of treatment to a woman in Raiwind THQ hospital. “I was appalled at the callousness demonstrated by the hospital which is unacceptable,” Shahbaz said.

But the [health] professionals are of the view that the sector has never been the priority of the Shahbaz administration. He has been facing criticism for his focus on developing a network of roads.

“The day the woman was denied entry to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, some 247 women came with labour pains while its gynae department has 15-bed capacity. More or less same is the situation in other teaching hospitals of Lahore,” said Pakistan Medical Association President (Punjab) Prof Dr Izhar Chaudhry.

Talking to Dawn, he said the last teaching hospital (Jinnah) was built in Lahore in 1990. “We have some 20 plus teaching hospitals in Punjab and there has been only 45 per cent doctors on sanctioned post. Seeing this situation there is a dire need to at least double the teaching hospitals in Punjab and fill all vacant posts of doctors,” he suggested.

Lamenting the Punjab government’s apathy for not spending full annual budget (about Rs200bn) on patient care, he said: “I doubt that even half of it is being spent on health. Take the example of a couple of hospitals like Jinnah and Mayo as 70pc of their annual budget - Rs1.25bn and Rs1.35bn, respectively, is utilised for salaries,” he said.

Prof Chaudhry said it seemed Shahbaz Sharif was at war with doctors community.

“He [CM] cannot run the sector without taking doctors on board. He launched the motorcycle health service which is not a pragmatic idea. He should have better bought new small ambulances to improve Rescue 1122. Since this project was initiated by Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, Shahbaz is not coming out of that animosity mode,” he said, adding similarly an amount of Rs3.5bn was ‘wasted’ on air-conditioning of public hospitals across Punjab.

Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2017