MULTAN-Punjab Minister for Health Yasmeen Rashid disclosed on Wednesday that the government is going to launch Health Card in four districts of South Punjab including Multan from February 22, which will facilitate four million people alone in this region.

Addressing a news conference here at Circuit House, she said that initially, 0.8 million families would get the card in South Punjab and the card holder would be entitled to medicines, treatment and diagnosis facilities worth Rs0.7 million. She further revealed that 7.2 million people would benefit from the scheme in the entire province, which would be completed by December 2019. She revealed that the government has paid Rs3.80 billion as first instalment for the health card so that people could avail healthcare facilities. She said that the cards would be distributed among deserving persons irrespective of their political affiliation.

Sharing further features of the health card, the minister informed that besides the treatment of nine major diseases, the card would also offer diagnosis and treatment for heart and neuro ailments. She said that in case of non-availability of treatment facilities at public hospitals, the patients would be able to get treatment from private health outlets. She said that the programme is being launched in the collaboration of Pakistan State Life.

She said that about 40 to 45 per cent population lived below poverty line and 30 per cent residents of Punjab consulted public hospitals in case of any health issue. She further disclosed that in case of death of the card holder patient the expenditures for his burial would be borne by the government while any injured labourer would get his three days salary, Rs1,000 travelling cost and free meals at the hospital. She said that the people considered the cards distributed by the PML-N fake as the previous government failed to offer healthcare facilities to the people despite making tall claims.

The minister revealed that the government has also allocated Rs32 billion for free medicines. She said that the mechanism for the purchase of medicines has been changed and special secretary has been appointed to monitor medicine supply to all hospitals of Punjab on daily basis. She said that a stockpile of medicines worth Rs5 billion is available at DG Health office.

She declared that the mechanism to run mobile health units is being changed and six units are being handed over to Nishtar Hospital. She said that these units would offer facilities like doctors, diagnosis and medicines to the residents of rural areas of the region. She said that the government put special focus on mother and child health and six hospitals are being built in Punjab for this purpose. She said that these hospitals are being built in Rajanpur, Layyah, Muzaffargarh, Mianwali and Attock districts, which would be accomplished in two years.

She said that Nishtar Phase-11 would be built over 68 acres of land in Mauza Blail and its PC-1 is being prepared. She disclosed that it would be a state-of-the art 500-bed hospital, containing campuses of Nishtar University and Dental College.

She told the media that steps are being taken to change the insulting behaviour of doctors and paramedical staff. She said that a comprehensive system is being devised for the private practice of specialist doctors. She said that the specialist doctors would be allowed to continue their private practice on the premises of public hospitals against a reasonable compensation but they would not be allowed to do practice outside the hospitals.

She said that the decaying system could not be repaired overnight and PTI government needed some time to fix it. To a query about Medical Superintendent of Nishtar Hospital, she said that no one is above the law and if he has committed any wrongdoing, he would face the consequences. She declared that that the PTI government would deal with the corrupt elements very strictly.

Earlier, addressing the participants of syndicate meeting of Nishtar Medical University here, she disclosed that special committees would carry out surprise visits of hospitals across the province to check presence of doctors, cleanliness and availability of medicines. She added that the committees would submit their reports and Medical Superintendents found guilty of negligence would be removed. "Besides a strict action will also be taken against them," she warned.

The minister took notice of poor sanitation and unavailability of medicines at Nishtar Hospital and reprimanded Medical Superintendent Dr Ashiq Malik. She directed him to improve the administrative affairs.

She said that steps are being taken to offer latest healthcare facilities to people in light of vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan. She directed the Medical Superintendents of all hospitals to discharge their responsibilities honestly, ensure presence of doctors and other staff as well as availability of free medicines at their hospitals.

The minister claimed that the former government issued Rs30 billion payment cheques but these cheques were dishonoured. She said that the PTI government has to bear the brunt of these non-payments and now the incumbent government is paying this amount.

Earlier, the syndicate approved granting a contract worth $74,000 a year to a foreign company for the maintenance of dialysis and CT Scan machines. The Syndicate members also agreed to send PC-1 to the Higher Education Commission for the construction of library and residential blocks. Similarly, it proposed to affiliate Nishtar Hospital and Nishtar Institute of Dentistry with Nishtar University. The syndicate also decided to hire services of testing service for recruitments against 5 to 16 scale posts while scale 1 to 4 recruitments will be made by the Vice Chancellor committee. It was decided that a committee would make decision in light of law for recovery of all salaries and other dues from the persons fired from their jobs due to fake degrees. The minister directed Nishtar administration to expedite work on installation of CCTV cameras at outdoor, installation of solar system and video conference link system.

The participants of the meeting approved nomination of MPA Saleem Akhtar Labar as member syndicate and selection board as well as Sabin Gull member syndicate.

PFA SEALS 8 OUTLETS

Vigilance wing of the Punjab Food Authority carried out surprise raids in different areas of South Punjab on Wednesday and sealed eight different outlets besides taking into custody 10,400 kilogram contaminated oil, 2,500kg adulterated red chilli powder and 10,000 snacks. The teams sealed Hamza Foods and Sheikh Jamal Oil Merchant in Multan, Abu Bakar Papar Unit Muzaffargarh, Lasani Chargha Dera Ghazi Khan, Habib Desi Ghee House Rahim Yar Khan.