Pakistan’s federal government has issued a notification to declare four major public sector hospitals, three in Karachi and one in Lahore, as federal health entities.
The notification to this effect was issued by the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination to assume control of Sheikh Zayed Postgraduate Medical Institute, Lahore; Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD), and National Institute of Child Health – the latter three in Karachi.
The administrative control of these hospitals were given to provincial governments in line with the 18th Constitutional Amendment.
The Sindh government perceives the move of the federal government to assume control of three major hospitals in Karachi as a step to reverse the 18th Amendment envisaging devolution of powers from the federal government to the provinces. The health sector became a provincial subject following the 18th Amendment.
The provincial authorities said that JPMC and NICVD in Karachi had particularly undergone massive expansion to expand the scope of free healthcare services by the two hospitals under the provincial government’s control.
For instance, the budget of NICVD was just Rs 335 million in the financial year 2011-12 when its control was devolved to the provincial government as its budget was later enhanced to Rs 8.8 billion in 2018-19.
The Sindh government has been of the view that it should continue to have control of the three hospitals in Karachi for continuance of its healthcare services to people from all over Pakistan.
The NICVD has now been operating eight satellite centres in other parts of Sindh. In addition to this, the NICVD has also been running chest pain units at a number of locations in Karachi to provide emergency first-aid to cardiac patients before moving them to bigger hospitals.
The Sindh Assembly in January, 2019 passed into law a bill to establish Sindh Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases to retain control of satellite centres and chest pain units of the NICVD in case the federal government assumes control.