ISLAMABAD            -         The Senate Standing Committee on National Health Services (NHS) on Thursday moved a privilege motion against Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) and Secretary Health over not attending the meeting.

The meeting was held here to discuss multiple issues of public importance. The committee presided over by chairperson Senator Khushbakht Shujaat had to discuss ban on diploma certificates for the nurses resulting in shortage of paramedical staff and causing concerns amongst the medical community.

The committee also had to discuss the public importance of public healthcare at risk because of mushroom growth of unauthorised private clinics and hospitals in Islamabad, moved by Senator Javed Abbasi.

The committee had also put on agenda the percentage/coverage of immunisation/vaccination of children under the Expanded Programme of Immunisation (EPI) in the country at present moved by Senator Dr. Mehar Taj Roghani.

On agenda items, the committee had also to discuss posting of junior officers in different hospitals/departments like PIMS, FGSH, NIRM, DRAP and others and temporary and ad-hoc postings other than the regular charge basis. This point of public importance was raised by Senator Shafiq Tareen on January 13, 2020

However, in absence of SAPM on NHS Dr. Faisal Sultan and Secretary NHS, the members of the committee decided to adjourn the meeting and move a privilege motion against both top officials of the health ministry.

The committee took serious notice of this matter and was of the view that Parliamentary Committee is an apex forum and must be taken seriously.  Chairperson Committee, Senator Khushbakht Shujaat opined that this was a blatant show of irresponsibility on the part of the ministry.

Members asserted that a privilege motion will be moved against the Secretary. This is a breach of privilege of Parliament and only through Parliamentary Committee, recommendations can be made for implementation by the competent authority. 

 The privilege motion moved by the Chairperson Committee Senator Khushbakht Shujaat said that “it is stated that a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination was scheduled on 27th August, 2020.”

It said, however, neither the Minister nor the Secretary, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination attended the meeting without any intimation.

The privilege motion said that the members, infuriated by the absence of the minister and secretary, decided to postpone the meeting without any proceedings. It is important to state here that the secretary of the concerned ministry has not attended the last three meetings of the committee consecutively without any intimation.

“The absence of the secretary has marred the proceedings of the committee for quite some time. The continuous absence of the secretary from the committee meetings constitutes a breach of privilege of the committee and the Senate,” said the motion.

It is, therefore, requested that the said privilege motion may be held in order and referred to the Senate to the Senate Committee on Rules of Procedure and Privileges, it said.

Chaired by Senator Khushbakht Shujaat, the meeting was attended by Senator Bahramand Khan Tangi, Senator Dr. Sikander Mandhro, Senator Dr. Ghous Muhammad Khan Niazi, Senator Dr. Mehr Taj Roghani, Senator Sana Jamali, Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi, Senator Sardar Muhammad Shafiq Tareen and senior officers from Ministry of Health.