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KARACHI, Sept 21: The provincial health department will authorize one private health facility in each town of Karachi to provide first aid to the patients in emergency cases.

This was stated by the adviser to chief minister on health, Faisal Malik, while addressing a press conference at his office on Tuesday. He said that three centres would be established in public sector hospitals and at least one private health facility in each town of the city would be authorized to provide treatment to the victims of accidents.

He further said that the selected private hospitals and clinics would be advised to treat the trauma patients on nominal charges. A meeting would be held to discuss this proposal next week, he said.

Faisal Malik maintained that the department had identified some private hospitals, including Ziauddin Hospital, Nazir Hussain Medical Centre, Holy Family Hospital, Aga Khan University Hospital and Liaquat National Hospital and the process of identifying other facilities where the trauma patients could be treated was in progress.

He said the plan would be implemented within a month as a summary had already been sent to the chief minister for approval. Mr Malik said that the burns unit of Civil Hospital Karachi would soon be made functional.

About the illegal blood banks functioning in the city, he said that the health department would take strict action against the blood bank, which had been sealed recently but had restarted functioning.

Under the Blood Transfusion Act, FIRs could be lodged against the management of a blood bank, which dealt in substandard products, he said. Besides, a fine up to Rs500,000 could also be imposed on such blood banks, he added.

The adviser said that the law department had already been consulted in this regard and a meeting of the Sindh Blood Transfusion Authority would be held soon to discuss the status of the 140 unregistered blood banks that were operating in Sindh.

About the provision of anti-rabies vaccines to hospitals, he said that the nazims were being provided Rs60,000 annually to eliminate stray dogs from their towns and if they did so the problem could have been solved.

He said that the service structure of paramedical staff was also being formulated and the desired results would be achieved soon. He said that an official had been removed from senior position in the School Health Project following reports that he had indulged in 'unseemly behaviour'. "Mark my words, I am going to tolerate neither corruption nor any other kind of misdeed."

He described in considerable detail the instances in which his department had taken punitive action against medical superintendents and other senior officials on disciplinary grounds.

He mentioned particularly the case of eight doctors against whom strict action had been taken recently. Referring to the poor staffing practices in government-run health facilities, the adviser said that Rural Health Centres and Basic Health Units were under the control of district governments.

"So, we are not accountable for what transpires in these units but the nazims are. Secondly, the situation at the tertiary level is better as compared to the lower levels," he said. However, he acknowledged that there was room for improvement at all the levels.

Mr Malik announced that some 700 vaccinators would be appointed soon by the department. Move-over and promotion cases would also be dealt with. Sindh Secretary Health Ashiq Hussain Memon was also present on the occasion.