KARACHI: Health Minister Azra Pechuho informed the Sindh Assembly on Thursday that the condition of Hasnain — a six-year-old boy from Larkana who was savagely bitten by six dogs several weeks ago — was still not satisfactory. He is being treated by a panel of doctors at the National Institute of Child Health.
Responding to a calling-attention notice moved by Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Shahana Ash’ar, Dr Pechuho said doctors were trying their best to rehabilitate the boy.
The MQM-P member had claimed in her calling-attention notice that dog-bite vaccine was not available in the government-run hospitals in Sindh, particularly in Karachi. While demanding an explanation on the issue, she claimed that funds meant to purchase the anti-rabies vaccine were being misappropriated.
“For God’s sake save our children. Our innocent children are the key victims of dog-bite incidents which are rampant with no attention being paid by the authorities,” said Ms Ash’ar.
The health minister said that in several instances dog-bite victims died because of prolonged delays in getting admitted to hospital.
‘Authorities are making efforts to save people from rabies on a long-term basis’
She said the government’s campaign to vaccinate dogs was continuing in the province.
“The government and the municipal authorities are making their efforts to save people from rabies on a long-term basis,” said the minister.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Rabistan Khan raised the issue of contamination of drinking water with sewage in many sectors of his constituency in Surjani Town.
Such a situation, he added, had disturbed the thickly populated neighbourhoods as the contaminated water had added to serious health problems there.
Parliamentary secretary for local government Saleem Baloch offered the PTI lawmaker to prepare a feasibility report on the issue and discuss it with him and the officials concerned in the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board.
“We are committed to resolving all such issues irrespective of political bias,” said Mr Baloch.
PTI’s Seema Zia referred to the Sindh Healthcare Commission Act, according to which, as she claimed, the chairperson of the commission should be nominated by third-party secret ballot.
“This has not been done while appointing the current chairperson of the commission,” she said, asking the health minister to respond to the issue.
The PTI lawmaker said the healthcare commission was being made controversial.
The health minister rejected the claim saying that nine of the commission’s members were commissioners, two of which were nominated by the government while seven were nominated by a committee overseeing the commission. Besides, the officials concerned in the health ministry and experts from private sector were also part of the board.
She said the commission’s chairman was selected on merit and in accordance with the SHCC Act, which required the chairman’s nomination through secret ballot by the commissioners.
The minister said the SHCC was an autonomous body and no one, including her, interfered in its affairs.
“I have never interfered in its affairs as the whole process is undertaken in accordance with the provisions given in the law.”
PTI’s Mohammad Shabbir said the sewerage system had virtually broken down in Labour Square and other parts of SITE Town.
He said similarly unliveable conditions prevailed in Old Golimar, Jahanabad and other such neighbourhoods.
The parliamentary secretary said the Labour Square area was in control of the labour ministry. However, he added, the issue would be resolved by taking all related agencies on board.
Assurance to the opposition
Later, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Chawla assured the opposition that the quarterly report of the provincial budget would soon be presented before the house.
He furnished the assurance after Leader of the Opposition Firdous Shamim Naqvi said on a point of order that the second quarter of the current fiscal’s budget was about to end, but the government had not laid the report of the first quarter before the house.
He said the treasury benches had “deliberately” delayed laying other such reports, including the accounts of the local government, lying in the assembly’s stores for four years.
“At least the government [should] inform the house whether they had spent the funds on the projects it had shown in the document, or they are not capable of using these funds,” said Mr Naqvi.
Minister Chawla said the budget’s first quarter report would soon be presented in the house.
The Sindh Advisors (Appointments, Powers, Functions, Salaries, Allowances and Privileges) Amendment Bill, 2019 was referred to the standing committee on law and parliamentary affairs on a request of the parliamentary affairs minister. The committee should submit its report before the house within two weeks.
The amendment would remove the condition in the present law warranting the governor’s permission to appoint advisers. The law said the amendment had been drafted to bring it in conformity with the provisions of Article 130 of the Constitution, which empowers the chief minister to appoint up to five advisers.
The reconsideration of The Coastal Development Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was deferred to the next sitting of the house.
This bill has been sent back to the assembly by the governor for reconsideration after raising several objections to its content.
Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2019