LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Thursday expressed serious concern over the condition of public health facilities in the provincial metropolis and sought comprehensive reports from different departments on action (if any) taken to control HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.

Acting Chief Justice Mamoon Rashid Sheikh was hearing a public interest petition questioning government’s failure to control increasing number of patients of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.

Lahore’s additional commissioner for coordination, officials from Punjab Aids Control Programme (PACP) and other departments were present in the court along with the government’s law officer.

During the hearing, Justice Sheikh said he did not remember if any new public hospital was built since Jinnah

Hospital was established in 1996. “I am unable to find any good reason behind this failure,” the judge added, lamenting that the government ignored establishing new schools and hospitals, leaving everything to private sector.

“Pakistan Kidney & Liver Institute (PKLI) is a specialised hospital and [is] still not fully functional,” Justice Sheikh observed when an official referred to the institute as a newly-established hospital.

The judge observed that every hospital should have the capacity to treat all diseases as citizens were not supposed to visit any particular hospital for the treatment of heart and kidney.

The judge said he could bear witness that the operation theatres of government-run hospitals even lacked essential items like spirit/ethanol. The condition of the government-run schools was also deplorable, he said and pointed out that the Government Central Model School, Lower Mall, was once a distinguished institution. He said many judges of the high court had studied in that school.

Coming back to the HIV/AIDS and hepatitis, Justice Sheikh shared that he found a number of inmates suffering from AIDS during his visit to Lahore’s Camp Jail.

The acting chief justice directed the additional commissioner and other officials to submit detailed reports on action taken to eradicate HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.

Hearing a separate petition regarding price hike and hoarding of edibles, Justice Sheikh directed the additional commissioner and livestock department to furnish reports as to how profiteering could be controlled.

The proceedings will be resumed after summer vacation in the high court. Both the petitions were filed by the Judicial Activism Panel (JAP) chairman Advocate Azhar Siddique.

Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2019