ISLAMABAD: While expressing concern over the state of affairs in public teaching hospitals in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Supreme Court on Thursday sought a complete report about their board of governors (BoG).
Hearing a case regarding alleged irregularities in selection of people for managements of the KP teaching hospitals, a three-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar expressed its dismay over the way these hospitals were being run.
The CJP recalled his visits to the province’s health institutions and regretted that operating theatres of many of them were not functional. He said one of the operating theatres in Ayub Medical College was even used for making tea.
A representative of Young Doctors Association (YDA) had invited the attention of the apex court by writing a letter to it in which he highlighted alleged favouritism and nepotism on the part of the province’s former chief minister who allegedly selected incompetent people for the board of governors of these hospitals. As a result, the letter said, the actual spirit of bringing reforms by transferring members of management of these teaching hospitals from the health department to the independent BoGs through the Medical Teaching Institutions Act, 2015 was affected.
Seeks report about board of governors running province’s health institutions
The letter had deplored that the actual purpose of introducing BoG system in the teaching hospitals was to streamline the management which was also welcomed initially by the doctor’s community in good faith, but the BoGs appointed blue-eyed boys to key management posts in violation of rules and regulations by converting the entire hospital management into a corporate sector. The letter had alleged that before the end of its tenure on May 31 this year, the previous KP government extended the period of BoG members and had pleaded to delegate the powers of BoGs to the province’s health department.
The letter contended that Nausherwan Burki — a US national and close relative of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan — was selected chairman of the Lady Reading Hospital’s BoG as well as chairman of the Peshawar Institute of Cardiology’s BoG allegedly in violation of the apex court’s verdict against simultaneously giving two positions to an individual.
Likewise, the letter said, Faisal Sultan had been selected chairman of the Khyber Teaching Hospital’s BoG (KTH) while he held the office of the Shaukat Khanum Hospital’s chief executive officer. The letter claimed that Mr Sultan was closely related to Mr Khan and Mr Burki.
Similarly, the letter said, Asim Yousaf had been selected as a member of the Ayub Teaching Hospital’s BoG while he was also an employee of Shaukat Khanum Hospital. Dilroz Khan — a cousin of former CM Pervez Khattak — was selected a member of the KTH’s BoG. Khalid Khan was selected a member of the Hayatabad Medical Complex’s (HMC) BoG. He is an uncle of the former health minister. Rubina Gillani — wife of PTI Senator Numan Wazir — was also a member of the HMC’s BoG.
In response, a reply was furnished before the Supreme Court on behalf of KP Chief Secretary Muhammad Azam Khan highlighting that the provincial cabinet in its meeting on April 25 had decided in principle to re-appoint the services of the medical teaching institutions’ BoGs.
The reply stated that the decision to include eminent professionals having significant aptitude was aimed at improving services of these institutions. The law permits members of BoGs to hold their offices for three years and makes them eligible for re-appointment.
Earlier such powers to appoint members of BoGs were exercised by the chief minister but consequent upon judgement of the Supreme Court defining government as provincial cabinet, all such decisions have been taken by the provincial cabinet.
On Thursday when the case was taken up, Faisal Sultan told the Supreme Court that it took one and a half years by the provincial government to make BoGs of all teaching hospitals functional. It was not very easy to improve things in the health sector of the province, he added.
But, the court inquired from Mr Sultan whether or not Mr Burki, who was running the affairs of the KP hospitals, was a cousin of Imran Khan. The court regretted that Mr Burki visited Pakistan for a short time and then returned abroad.
The health sector was the top priority of the judiciary, the CJP observed. He regretted that hospitals in KP even lacked proper cleanliness.
The CJP asked Mr Sultan that he was ready to visit any hospital of the province along with him to witness the state of affairs of the health sector.
The court put off further proceedings with a direction to submit complete details regarding the constitution of the BoGs running the affairs in KP hospitals.
Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2018