LAHORE – The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday expressed displeasure over the performance of the Punjab Government when it was told that the government had not yet completed various water filtration plants “introduced” for the last many years.

A two-judge bench, headed by Justice Saqib Nisar, expressed the annoyance while hearing the suo moto case of deaths of cardiac patients which had resulted from taking spurious medicines provided by the Punjab Institute of Cardiology.

Earlier, senior doctors from different hospitals appeared before the court in pursuance of its notices and gave many suggestions about the regulations of the Drug Regulatory Authority, the affairs at the Sheikh Zaid Hospital, the measures taken to control the increasing number of cases of polio and hepatitis and manufacturing of medicines in the country.

Assisting on polio and hepatitis, Prof Dr Faisal Masood and Prof Dr Javed Raza Gardezi informed the bench that contaminated water in the country was being offered to the poor, which was leading increased cases of diarrhoea and polio. “How can a country which does not provide clean drinking water to a single person eradicate the danger of diseases, especially polio?” Dr Masood questioned when informing the court about the gravity of the issue.

He also revealed that fats had been reduced in the packed milk, which is also adulterated. The powder has been used for the preparation of this type of milk, which is causing diarrhoea and polio, he further told the bench. “I know that the small investors are selling drinking water on the name of mineral water to the masses but that is not clean water. Serving as judge of the Lahore High Court, I also had taken serious notice on the issue and directed the Punjab government to speed up the project of water filtration plants, but unfortunately noting [has] happened so far and my efforts went result-less,” Justice Saqib Nisar responded to the arguments of Dr Masood.

The Punjab government had later started a confrontation with contractors hired to install the water filtration plants in the cities and rural areas of the province which led to delay the project, Justice Saqib Nisar observed adding that billions of rupees for the said project were untouched so far by the government. The court was also told that the effectiveness of the Polio Vaccine had also reduced due to the loadshedding of electricity as the vaccine needs a levelled cooling.

Dr Masood further added in the concerns of the court by telling that the instruments being used in the country’s hospitals were not sterilised properly as well as there was not a well system of cleanliness in the hospitals’ wards, operation theatres and washrooms.

“The improper sterilisation of the instruments is causing Hepatitis in the country. While, there is also a no proper arrangement for the disposal of wastage of hospitals, Dr Masood said the hospitals demanded more funds to improve the progress. “You (Dr Masood) have put the court in trouble by telling the truth about the public health facilities. It seems that the health sector was not the priority of the governments,” Justice Nisar observed. Punjab Secretary Health and Advocate general Punjab also assisted the apex court. They told the bench the issues of doctors including young doctors were being resolved and the government was consulting with them on their genuine grievances. The bench also observed that the Young Doctors Association had not legal value. The court issued notices to Cabinet Secretary for explanation on polio issue and four provincial secretaries of health department on the next date of hearing and ordered to appear before the bench in person. The apex court also directed the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Association president to appear before the court. The court also directed to submit details report about the health structure including the service structures of doctors of each province. The apex court will resume the hearing on suo moto on March 12 in Islamabad.