KARACHI: Health Minister Azra Pechuho has informed the Sindh Assembly that the Sindh Healthcare Commission (SHCC) has sealed 193 health facilities “due to ongoing quackery practice” in Karachi, Hyderabad, Larkana and Mirpurkhas divisions.
She also said that more than 500 warning letters had been issued to the doctors who did not comply with the SHCC’s directives.
“As per SHCC Regulations-2017’s section 35 (i) the healthcare providers, including MBBS doctors, homeopaths, tabibs and LHWs are not allowed to practice until they are registered with their respective councils and will be considered as quacks under Section 39 (g, h) of SHCC regulations,” she said while responding to a question asked by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Arsalan Taj during the Sindh Assembly’s Question Hour.
She said that the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council issued licenses to medical practitioners and the SHCC lifted seals of those establishments which renewed or got such licenses from the PMDC.
PTI’s Seema Zia, who asked the question in place of her absent colleague, said a number of individuals were acting like dermatologists by wearing white robes and, in fact, putting the profession down.
Dr Pechuho said the SHCC had sealed a number of clinics in upmarket Clifton neighbourhood where individuals pretended to be dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons.
She said the maximum fine limit of Rs 500,000 could be increased through an amendment in the law. “We have sealed clinics of four MBBS doctors who were involved in cosmetic surgeries [despite having no qualification],” said the minister.
PTI’s Khurrum Sher Zaman asked whether only seven out of 16 dialysis machines were functional at the Chandka Medical College Hospital.
Dr Pechuho said at present 12 dialysis machines were operational out of 18 at CMCH Larkana. The relevant company had been approached by the medical superintendent concerned for installing 12 new machines.
She said machines had been imported from Japan under the SPPRA (Sindh Public Procurement Regulatory Authority) rules. Besides, she said there were three separate machines for HIV patients while four took care of hepatitis patients.
She said the number of such machines was being increased in the areas where the number of patients was bigger. However, dialysis machines were being made available in every district to reduce load of patients in certain districts.
She conceded to the claim that there was a dearth of nephrologists and urologists in Larkana. However, she remarked that the technicians appointed there were duly trained by the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation.
She said the dialysis machines were being used round the clock, which forced the government to purchase more such machines to reduce the load on existing machines.
While placing another question vis-à-vis increasing cases of HIV in Larkana, Mr Sher Zaman claimed the health minister had failed in stemming those cases and demanded her resignation.
Minister Pechuho said Karachi led in the incidence of HIV followed by Larkana where rate of injecting drug users was higher. She said those drugs were coming from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, hinting at the province ruled by Mr Zaman’s party.
“These drugs are coming all the way from KP to the country’s south; thus, the primary responsibility rests on your government there to nip this menace in the bud,” she said.
The minister said the incidence of HIV increased when the high-risk population refused to get screened. However, now it was encouraging to see those people approaching the health officials and volunteering themselves to be screened.
PPP’s Marui Rashdi intervened with a supplementary question in which she referred to certain media reports claiming 4,000 HIV patients had surfaced in KP.
“Now, tell us when the prime minister is resigning,” she referred to the PTI lawmaker’s demand of the health minister’s resignation.
To a question, the minister said Karachi had the highest number of injecting drug users in the country, estimated to be more than 27,000.
Dr Pechuho further stated that the investigation report into the mysterious death of a final-year student of Bibi Aseefa Dental College Larkana would be received in two days.
She said the number of dengue patients in Punjab, KP and Islamabad were exponentially higher than those reported in Sindh. More deaths because of dengue fever were reported in Punjab than Sindh, she added.