ISLAMABAD: While Covid-19 cases are on the rise in the capital and across the country again, the employees of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) have decided to close all outpatient departments (OPDs) and wards from Tuesday (today).

They also threatened to shut down operation theatres if the government ignored their demands and tried to privatise the hospital.

On Monday, the employees held a protest, saying the government’s move to put Pims under the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Medical University (SZABMU) would not be tolerated.

Young Consultants Association Chairman Dr Asfandyar Khan told Dawn that during the tenure of Pakistan People’s Party (2013-2018), Pims was put under the SZABMU but the employees did not accept the legislation and protested against the move.

“In 2018, during the tenure of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), a legislation was made to separate the hospital from the university. However, the National Assembly recently not only repealed the controversial Medical Teaching Institution (MTI) Act passed by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government but also repealed the Act of 2018,” he said.

In November 2020, President Dr Arif Alvi promulgated the MTI ordinance under which Pims was to be run through a board of governors (BoG). However, on June 8, the MTI Act was repealed by the National Assembly.

Dr Khan said due to the recent legislation the employees will again lose the status of civil servants and be placed under the university.

“We demand that the Act of 2018 should be restored so that the university would progress. Vice chancellors cannot run hospitals. Moreover, patients will have to pay for treatment as the university will be told to generate funds to meet expenses,” he said.

Earlier addressing the protesters, Grand Health Alliance (GHA) Chairman Qamar Gujjar said: “The employees will never accept any legislation which would change the status of the hospital. We have decided to close the OPDs and wards from Tuesday (today).”

GHA spokesperson Dr Haider Abbasi said Pims was a gift from former prime minister Benazir Bhutto but unfortunately efforts were being made to privatise when the PPP was in the coalition government.

Another speaker, Syed Manzar Abbas Naqvi, suggested that the government build new hospitals and universities under the name of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto instead of changing the status of Pims.

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2022

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