KARACHI: Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho on Tuesday informed the Sindh Assembly that several employees of the health department had been dismissed from jobs after they failed to show their biometric attendances.
Responding to questions asked by provincial lawmakers during the Sindh Assembly session chaired by Speaker Siraj Durrani, she said some 600 new MBBS doctors, and not specialists, had been recruited and posted in public sector hospitals across the province.
Replying to a supplementary question asked by Grand Democratic Alliance’s Nand Kumar, Dr Pechuho said that the health employees were dismissed after adopting a required process as they failed to authenticate their attendance on biometric system.
The house unanimously adopts a resolution paying tribute to Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai
Mr Kumar was referring to reports suggesting that 15 doctors employed with the health department were actually working abroad, yet they were still drawing their salaries.
To a question by Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Ra’ana Ansar, the health minister said around three million hepatitis carriers were in Sindh as per the last survey of the Pakistan Medical and Research Council conducted in 2007-08.
She said the government had launched the Hepatitis Prevention and Control Programme (Chief Minister’s Initiative) Sindh.
She added 61 hepatic sentinel sites and 17 screening and vaccination centres, with placement of staff, had been established at teaching hospitals or institutes of district headquarters and taluka hospitals and rural health centres where population was being screened, diagnosed, vaccinated and treated for hepatitis B, C and D.
Besides, Dr Pechuho said, four PCR molecular labs had also been established for carrying out free-of-cost confirmatory tests for hepatitis B, C and D.
MQM-P’s parliamentary leader Kanwar Naveed asked whether chemicals, blood bags and kits were not available in laboratory of the trauma centre at the Peoples Medical Hospital, Benazirabad. She said the chemicals, blood bags and kits were available in the facility.
To another question by GDA’s Rafique Banbhan, the minister said patients of hepatitis in Khairpur district were managed at the hepatic sentinel sites at Khairpur Medical College (KMC) Hospital, RHC Thari Mirwah, and Taluka Hospital Kotdiji. She said the patients of Faiz Ganj taluka were tested at the KMC Hospital, Khairpur.
Besides, the patients of hepatitis in Shikarpur district were managed at the hepatic sentinel site at RBUT Civil Hospital, Shikarpur where patients from various health centres including basic health units were referred.
She termed the claim of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Khurrum Sher Zaman inaccurate when she said there was a civil surgeon deputed at the Civil Hospital Sanghar and the reports that 50 posts of medical officers were vacant in the district were too not correct.
The minister said there were 30 sanctioned posts of medical officers or women medical officers in the district and all of them were filled.
79 registered blood banks in Karachi
To a question asked by Pakistan Peoples Party’s Ghazala Siyal, the minister said there were 79 registered blood banks in Karachi while not a single blood bank existed in Qambar Shahdadkot district.
MQM-P’s Jawed Hanif sought details about the efforts on the part of the Sindh government vis-à-vis tackling the alarming incidence of hepatitis and dog bite. He asked why the authorities were not launching a public awareness campaign about such key issues.
The health minister said her department was taking efforts through all available resources.
She said most people could not take precautionary measures against hepatitis since they did not know about the presence of its virus in their bodies. “We should not get dejected with the situation; it needs a joint effort on the part of all of us to combat such diseases.”
To another report referred to by a PTI lawmaker claiming that a gardener was found administering vaccine to a patient at a hospital in Benazirabad, the minister said the report was false as suggested by a recent inquiry she had ordered.
‘Victims of dog bite don’t get vaccine’
PTI’s Saeed Afridi said at least 24 persons were bitten by dogs in a single day in Nazimabad and they could not find vaccine at the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital when they were brought there.
He said a police official tried to catch the dog, but got himself bitten.
“The situation is so grave that we have to seek the help of Rangers to eliminate rabid dogs,” he added.
Dr Pechuho said the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital was controlled by the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and mayor’s office should be asked why the vaccine was not available there.
PTI’s parliamentary party leader Haleem Adil Sheikh claimed more than 100,000 dog-bite cases had been reported across Sindh during the current year, yet “we are told that the required vaccine is not being supplied by the federal government. I should ask what actually the Sindh government is doing for this.”
Dr Pechuho said providing the vaccine was the responsibility of the federal government since the provincial health department was not supposed to produce vaccines.
Tribute to Shah
The house unanimously adopted a resolution paying tribute to great Sufi poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai on his 276th urs.
The resolution was jointed moved by PPP’s Qasim Soomro, GDA’s Nand Kumar, MQM-P’s Mohammad Hussain and PTI’s Haleem Sheikh and Saeed Afridi.
The movers paid glowing tributes to the great Sindhi poet, saying it was an honour for the Sindh Assembly to pass such a resolution for a person who was an epitome of love, peace and universal equality.
Agriculture Minister Ismail Rahu, Heer Soho, Ghulam Qadir Chandio, and Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan’s Mohammad Qasim also spoke.
Later, Deputy Speaker Rehana Leghari put the resolution before the house and got it passed unanimously.
The session was adjourned for Friday.
Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2019