LAHORE    -   There is a lot of public concern about the health of Punjab legislators following an official confirmation that they have consumed medicines worth Rs 20 million in the last six months. Since there is no evidence to reject the official claims, it remains a disturbing fact that members of the Punjab Assembly, around 370 in number, are surely suffering from multiple diseases and need more medication to sustain their health.

It is even more alarming to know that there is acute shortage of medicines at the Assembly dispensary at the moment. A group of legislators on Monday visited the office of Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Mohammad Mazari to apprise him of the looming threat to their health in the wake of non-availability of medicines they have been consuming in the last six months.

Monday’s Punjab Assembly session was revealing on two counts. The first revelation came from the deputy speaker who quoted some assembly members as having told him that medicines were not available at the Assembly dispensary. The second one was made by Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid who astonished the House by telling that medicines worth Rs 20 million were procured for the Assembly dispensary only six months back. She wondered where all the medicines had gone in short span.

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The Chair, however, asked the minister to look into the matter and inform the House on Tuesday morning.  Apart from enjoying some other perks and privileges, Punjab Assembly members are also entitled to get medicines from the Assembly dispensary free of cost. The only hassle they have to take is to visit a government hospital to seek a prescription from a doctor specifying the disease and the medicines required for the treatment. 

Undoubtedly, it is in the public interest to keep the lawmakers hale and healthy since they are the ones who pass the laws in the public interest. And if they are sick, they won’t be able to come to the Assembly to make legislation. And this happened on Monday also when Punjab Assembly did not undertake any legislative business as the required number of lawmakers (93 out of 370) was not present in the House. Three pieces of legislation regarding constitution of Skills Development Authority, Technical Education and Board of Technical Education were on the agenda of Assembly business yesterday. The House would now take up these bills on Wednesday since Tuesday (today) is a Private Members Day. Hopefully, the Treasury would ensure the presence of required lawmakers on Wednesday to pass the above-mentioned laws.