LAHORE: While issuing the order to release Rs1bn grant for the Pakistan Kidney & Liver Institute (PKLI), the Punjab government has initiated the process to restore the 25 Hepatitis Prevention and Treatment Centres (HPTCs) across the province to link them again with the institute.

The grant is to be released in June and the Punjab government has been directed to provide more funds to the PKLI to ensure uninterrupted treatment of the liver and kidney patients.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif held a meeting and issued the order to appoint Prof Akthar Saeed as the chairperson of the PKLI the other day. Four years ago, Dr Saeed Akhtar had proceeded back to the United States after court proceedings and other issues.

An official, privy to the information, told Dawn 25 satellite centres/clinics were established in the major cities and districts of Punjab during the previous term of the PML-N government in the province. He said they had the latest technology, equipment and qualified doctors and nursing and other trained staff appointed in the PML-N’s tenure.

Makes Dr Saeed Akhtar chairperson; starts restoration of 25 HPTCs

These clinics were offering critical services to the patients at their doorsteps by providing them with free treatment, diagnostic and other services. These facilities were also working as referral centres to ‘refer’ the serious patients to the PKLI in Lahore for specialised treatment, including major liver and kidney-related surgical interventions. The centres had provided 2.3 services in interaction with the patients during 2015 to 2018 and the PTI government had surprisingly shut down the services.

As these facilities were the brainchild of the former head of the institute Prof Saeed Akhtar, the Buzdar administration had not only closed down the centres but also removed him from the post, the official said.

He added that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, during his recent visit, showed displeasure at the closure of the centres, interrupting critical healthcare services to the patients in Punjab. He directed the incumbent government to restore the facilities immediately.

In the light of the directions of the PM, the Punjab health authorities held an important meeting to discuss the issues related to the PKLI.

About the board of governors (BoG), the official said, the three-year term of the BoG expired on May 10 (this month) and the government had given instructions for nomination of new members to give a prime role to Prof Saeed Akhtar.

The PM was not happy when he was informed that the previous 13-member BoG was largely dominated by the bureaucrats. He said the PTI government had made six bureaucrats members of the BoG, including the secretaries of health, finance, planning & development, law & parliamentary affairs and ex-chief commissioner inland revenue service Multan.

The new government has been strictly directed to cut down the size of representation of the bureaucracy in the BoG.

The prime minister also issued directions to establish a nursing university on the premises of the PKLI.

Published in Dawn,May 24th, 2022

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