PESHAWAR: The health department has removed five members of policy board of medical teaching institutions and will appoint new ones within a fortnight.

A notification by health department on Tuesday said that in the exercise of powers conferred under sub-section (2) of Section 4A of Medical Teaching Institutions Reforms Act (MTIRA), 2015, read with the judgment of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in human right case in 2018 and notification of Election Commission of Pakistan dated January 22, 2023, the government was pleased to order that the chairman and members of the policy board would cease to hold offices with immediate effect.

“The dissolution of Boards of Governors of 10 medical teaching institutions (MTIs) will follow in a stepwise manner,” Prof Abid Jameel, adviser to caretaker chief minister on health, told Dawn. He said that search and nomination committee under him would induct new members of the policy board within two weeks.

To a question about the advice of former chief secretary and health secretary, who had asked the caretaker provincial cabinet to desist from taking policy decisions, he said that the new notification regarding removing the members of policy board was in line with the law.

New ones will be appointed within two weeks

“The caretaker government had replaced the BoG members in 2018 as well and therefore, we have applied the same yardstick and decided to remove them,” said Prof Abid.

He said that caretaker cabinet could not take irreversible policy decisions but could remove existing BoGs and appoint new ones. “We have discussed the legal situation in the presence of lawyers and law minister retired Justice Irshad Qaiser after which we decided to remove the boards,” he added.

Sources in health department told Dawn that former chief secretary and secretary health, who had attended the meeting of the caretaker government on March 16, opposed the move. They said that both had urged the cabinet members to stay away from policy decision as it wasn’t the mandate of the caretaker government.

However, the cabinet was adamant to remove the boards and with the transfer of both the bureaucrats, the directives to dissolve the policy board were issued.

“In the presence of the former chief secretary and secretary health, it was not possible for the health department to issue the notification,” sources said. They added adviser to chief minister on health and other ministers tried to convince both the officers but in vain as they told the caretakers that they would follow only legal course of action.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government enforced MTIRA in 10 hospitals and their affiliated medical colleges. Under the law, the MTI-covered hospitals were run by respective Board of Governors (BoG). Later, it was felt that the BoGs made different decisions regarding healthcare services and medical education in the relevant institutions. So the policy board was formed through amendment to MTIRA in the second tenure of PTI government to make uniform decisions in all MTIs.

Officials in health department said that the five-member policy board headed by Prof Nausherwan Burki had been dissolved and new board would be formed as per law. They said that the caretakers focused more on the replacement of the boards due to demand by stakeholders. “However, it will be seen when the member challenge their removal in court,” they added.

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2023

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