KARACHI- Pakistan Medical Association has expressed serious concerns over the issue of imposition of user charges on OPD patients, for x-rays, ultrasound, and all investigations, being done at public sector hospitals, and termed the user charges as conspiracy against the democratic government. The government is talking about the imposition of user charges at public sector hospitals despite the fact that it has failed to provide basic health facilities to the people of the city. PMA has launched a movement against the ill polices of the health department, while this press conference is the starting point of the movement. These views were expressed by General Secretary PMA Karachi Dr Samrina Hashmi, while speaking at a press conference held on Thursday at Karachi Press Club. President PMA Karachi, Dr Aziz Khan Tank was also present on the occasion. She said, The health department, in an official letter, says that the modalities and collection will be decided by the respective Medical Superintendent, Civil Surgeon, Director of Hospital and amount collected will be distributed as: 10 percent among working doctors, 10 percent among working paramedics, 30 percent to be deposited in the government treasury, 50 percent to be deposited in health welfare committee, hospital, NGO. Proposed user charges of dental department are Rs 50 for scaling and Rs 50 for filling, while eye departments of the hospitals are directed to charge Rs 50 for eyesight checking. The eye department distributes refraction glasses free of charge but now they are ordered to charge from all the patients. This order has been distributed throughout the public sector hospital. If the friends of the hospital are serving the people free of charge, why does the govt want to interfere? Why do they want to impose charges on noble work of these associations? It is already difficult for the poor and middleclass to survive. What sort of health facilities govt is providing to the masses. Health is a fundamental right and it should be free. Common man is being suppressed due to the negative polices of the government, health facilities are being vanished, as 40 maternity homes are closed due to the negligence of the concerned authorities, she said and added that around 2500 Basic Health Units (BHUs) are not functional in the province although BHUs were considered as initial facility for deprived people, but the government was apathetic towards the issue. Our 40 percent of population is living below poverty line, and 70 percent does not have access to pure drinking water and proper sanitation system, she said. She said that, in this regard, PMA would mobilize MNAs, NGOs, other stakeholders and common people against the heavy-handed government policies towards the health sector, while media could play vital role in this regard. The second issue is the imposition of fee schedule on private hospitals and clinics, which in unilaterally decided and with out taking stake holders into confidence. Ultimately the extra burden of fee will be passed on to the consumers that are the poor patient. The private hospitals are already shouldering the burden of high electricity, gas bills, they do not want to shift this burden to the patient but govt is pushing them to do so. Through this fee structure, govt will be promoting quackery, who ever will pay the fee can run a clinic. There is no clarification regarding the system of monitoring. This is going to open the Pandora box of corruption. PMA is not against the regulation of private hospitals and clinics. It should be done as early as possible. PMA wants the government to take all stakeholders, associations of private hospitals, journalist and honourable citizens into the deciding committee and the whole process should be transparent and accountable and should be monitored quarterly. PMA demanded the Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah to take notice of such new decisions of the said authorities, she said.