The Sindh Assembly has approved the Amal Umer Medical Bill, Sindh Injured Persons Compulsory Medical Treatment 2019, in a bid to make up for the loss that Amal’s parents had to go through due to the negligence of the hospital she was taken to. The incident took place in August 2018, when a stray bullet hit Amal in a police shoot out due to the inexperience of the police force in dealing with heavy machinery. Doctors of Sindh had been urging the government to work on such an arrangement where injured persons can be treated at any hospital rather than having to go to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (PMC). Many patients expire on their way to PMC because of the distance they have to cover.

To improve the health situation of any province, it is necessary to take such steps. Private and public hospitals both should be prompted to treat injured patients and on a priority. Those in a critical condition need to be treated before other patients and any hospital which says no should be held accountable. For the longest time, the practice has been to deny treatment to patients which involve a police case. This means that several people lose their life like Amal did because legal proceedings overshadowed the need to save a patient’s life. Very closely linked with this concern is also the need to upgrade the ambulance set up in the province. Ambulances should be equipped with all the necessary first aid equipment to ensure that a patient can be taken to the hospital in time and can be saved with the treatment provided in the ambulance.

While many experts were rightly concerned about the implementation of this bill, the Sindh government seems to have decided to make this policy work for the people of the province. All hospitals will be granted a working license only if they take in critical patients despite the legal proceedings. The government has also pledged to pay for all the expenses of those brought in critical situations to public and private hospitals. It is not yet evident how they are going to pay for these expenses because no budget has been outlined for this but it is quite possible that the Chief Minister’s discretionary fund is utilised for this purpose. This is definitely a step in the right direction - one that should be complemented with the rigorous training of the police force.