LAHORE -  Minister for Health Dr Yasmin Rashid on Monday claimed availability of dog and snake bite vaccines across the province.

To the complaints of legislators regarding unavailability of medicines at the Punjab Assembly dispensary, she said that medicines worth Rs20 million have been provided during the last six months. The House could not take up a single item on agenda during the government business due to a lack of quorum.

The session started one hour and 20 minutes behind the schedule with Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari in the chair. The House offered fateha for ex-MPAs Rana Shaukat Mahmood and Rana Tajammal Hussain.

During the Question Hour on the specialized healthcare and medical education and primary and secondary healthcare departments, Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid claimed that anti-snake venom and anti-rabies vaccines were available at DHQ/THQ hospitals across the province.

To a supplementary question, she said that 30,000 doses have been airlifted and the same have been provided to DHQ/THQ Hospitals. She said that 15.000 doses have been provided to health facilities in the South Punjab and the remaining 15,000 doses to hospitals in the rest of the province.

Referring to the reasons behind delay in procurement, she said that only China and India were producing the necessary vaccines.

“India had refused to provide these vaccines on the plea that production was catering only own requirements. Objection on two Chinese firms coupled with Indian refusal led to such a situation. Now 30,000 doses are available that has been equally distributed between South and the rest of the province”, the minister said while promising resolving the issue of unavailability of vaccine anywhere in the province immediately.

Complaint of a legislator regarding unavailability of medicines at PA dispensary drew swift response from the minister. She said that medicines worth Rs20 million have been provided to the legislators during the last six months. The chair suggested the minister to look into the matter and inform the House after checking all details by today (Tuesday).

The minister claimed that protocol of treatment of breast cancer was at par with the international standards. She said that vaccine for cervical cancer was available at hospitals. She said that there was need of raising awareness about self examination and early diagnosis to minimise deaths relating to breast cancer. She said that prevalence of cervical cancer was low.  On the query of PML-N’s Azma Zahid Bokhari that whether the government was providing free vaccination for cervical cancer or waiting for its high prevalence, the minister said that the issue could be taken up with the taskforce. On getting feedback, the government could ponder over providing free vaccine for cervical cancer.

The minister said that 10 beds have been allocated at teaching hospitals and five at DHQ hospitals for treatment of addicts. She said that 100 bed detoxification wing would be functional at Punjab Institute of Mental Health during the current fiscal year. She said that doctors would be trained at this centre and would perform the difficult task of detoxification at other hospitals. She said that all relevant ministers have already convened several meetings for curbing the menace of use of drugs at educational institutions.

PML-N’s Samiullah Khan said that minister of state Sheharyar Afridi had already admitted alarming use of drugs at educational institutions in Islamabad. He questioned that whether there was any rehabilitation in Islamabad or they could take benefits from such a facility in Punjab. The minister said that federal government could give detail as her domain was limited to Punjab only.

 She said that there was no harm in facilitating patients from Islamabad.

To a query of PPP’s Syed Usman Mahmood, she said that the department has already been directed to prepare PC-1 for establishing a DHQ Hospital in Rahim Yar Khan. On the suggestion of the chair to provide 10 acre land for setting up the health facility, Usman Mahmood said that he was ready to give 15 acre for the noble cause. On the offer of the legislator, the minister passed a smile and appreciated his spirit.  Before the start of proceedings on government business, PML-N’s Zaibun Nisa pointed quorum. As the quorum remained incomplete even after ringing bells for five minutes and 15 minutes long break, the chair adjourned the session till Tuesday at 11pm.