LAHORE: Financial and administrative matters of the four public sector medical universities of the province and their attached medical colleges and hospitals have come to a grinding halt as the PML-N government in Punjab has delayed the allocation of the portfolio of the health ministry.

The universities facing hardships include Fatima Jinnah Medical University of Lahore, Rawalpindi Medical University, Faisalabad Medical University and the Nishtar Medical University of Multan.

A health minister is, as per the act of the medical universities, ‘Pro-Chancellor’, a key person to chair the syndicate meetings for granting approvals to programmes. A syndicate is the most powerful forum to grant approval to run the administrative and financial matters of public medical universities of Punjab.

An official privy to the development told Dawn that public hospitals attached to the universities and colleges were awaiting approval for the procurement of equipment, medicines and hiring of the human resource which required the syndicate’s approval.

Similarly, the budget of the varsities also requires the approval of the syndicate to run the financial and administrative affairs of the mega teaching institutes.

In addition, he said, the postgraduate programmes and several diplomas also required the approval of the syndicate meetings.

The absence of the health minister has affected the completion of the Mother-Child Hospital at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, and the recruitment of staff from BS 17 to BS 19 at other teaching institutes.

Under the act, the official said, the syndicate meetings of the medical universities are to be chaired by the pro-chancellor.

Since the PML-N took over in April last, not a single syndicate meeting of any public medical university in the province was convened. Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz nominated eight members for his cabinet, who took oath on May 31, and of them, Khawaja Salman Rafique is likely to be notified as the health minister.

These days, he is looking after the matters related to the health and medical education ‘unofficially’.

The source says the significance of the syndicates of the medical universities increased manifold when the Punjab government abolished the board of management and transferred all powers to syndicates.

A medical university’s syndicate consists of 11 to 14 members, including representatives of the judiciary, philanthropists, accountants, and MPAs.

The Nishtar Medical University’s syndicate has been without three MPAs for the last one and half years or so when they left the body and the government turned down frequent requests of the varsity for their replacement.

Another problem of the varsity relates to the approval of Rs900 million for finance and planning by the syndicate. The same plethora of issues has hit the Faisalabad Medical University, which requires approval of a Personal Ledger Account amounting to Rs500 million by the syndicate meeting.

Similarly, no meetings of the syndicate were held at the Fatima Jinnah Medical University and the Rawalpindi Medical University during the tenure of the PML-N.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2022

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