ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday appointed Dr Faisal Sultan as his special assistant on health with the status of federal minister days after the resignation of Dr Zafar Mirza amid declining number of coronavirus cases.

Dr Sultan, who has already been serving as PM’s focal person on Covid-19 besides heading Shuakat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre (the charity hospital founded by Mr Khan) as its chief executive officer, is expected to take the charge of his office on Tuesday (today).

According to a notification of the cabinet division, signed by Joint Secretary Taimor Tajammul and available with Dawn, PM Khan appointed Dr Sultan as special assistant to the prime minister on health with the status of a federal minister, with immediate effect.

The post fell vacant last week with the resignation of Dr Mirza who had assumed the charge of special assistant to the PM on health in April 2019, replacing then minister for national health services Aamer Mehmood Kiani.

90pc Covid patients recovered amid drop in number of new cases

Dr Sultan, a consultant physician on medicine and infectious diseases, has been serving as PM’s focal person on Covid-19 and attending meetings of the National Command and Operation Centre on Covid-19 regularly. He completed his graduation from the King Edward Medical College University, Lahore. He also holds the postgraduate degrees of Diplomate American Board of Internal Medicine and Diplomate American Board of Infectious Disease.

While talking to Dawn, media coordinator of Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) Sajid Shah said that hopefully Dr Faisal would take the charge of his office on Tuesday.

Dr Mirza visits NCOC

Former SAPM on Health Dr Mirza on Monday visited the NCOC and a shield was given to him in recognition of his efforts to control the deadly virus.

According to the NCOC data, 14 people lost their lives and less than 900 people were infected with the virus during first two days of Eidul Azha. On Monday, only 213 out of 1,859 ventilators were occupied across Pakistan. There was no patient on ventilator in Balochistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Ninety per cent patients of Covid-19 in Pakistan have already recovered.

During his visit to the NCOC, Dr Mirza was presented a shield by federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar. The minister thanked the former PM’s aide for his efforts and wished him best of luck for his future.

Last Wednesday, Dr Mirza took to Twitter to announce his resignation as the special assistant to the PM on health, saying he had made the decision over the “negative discussion about the role of SAPMs and criticism of the government”. His departure, along with that of former special assistant to the prime minister on digital Pakistan Tania Aidrus, had come days after the opposition lambasted the government following the latter’s move to make public details of the assets and dual nationalities of 20 advisers and special assistants to the prime minister.

Tweeting about his replacement, Dr Mirza said: “I am very pleased about the appointment of Dr Faisal Sultan as SAPM health. As federal minister he will be able to make decisions which are important.” Calling him “a capable professional with a good worldview” and a good friend, Dr Mirza wished him success in his new role.

Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2020