Clueless health minister enrages deputy speaker


ISLAMABAD: National Assembly Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi on Monday lost his temper when Health Minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin failed to apprehend successive questions raised by members of the Lower House of Parliament.
Kundi’s harsh remarks left the minister high and dry and he was speechless. Earlier, when a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) legislator asked the minister whether his ministry was working on some joint public-private venture to install a liver treatment plant at any of the hospitals other than the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), Islamabad or Shaikh Zayed Hospital in Lahore, Shahabuddin said ‘his ministry will welcome if he could bring some investors for the project’.
The deputy speaker asked the confused minister – who was also unable to understand other successive questions and requested for them to be repeated – whether his ministry was doing any good for the public cause.
During the Question Hour, Shahabuddin said the federal government was establishing two liver-disease treatment and transplant centres, one each at Sheikh Zayed Hospital and PIMS, during the current fiscal year.
A grant of Rs200 million has been sanctioned for the centre at PIMS, and Rs176.832 million have been authorised for the centre at Shaikh Zayed Hospital, Lahore, he added. Meanwhile, in a written reply to a question, the Health Ministry stated that no survey was conducted to ascertain the number of maternity deaths in 2009-2010 and 2010-11, while the last such survey was conducted in 2006-07 which depicts the following maternity deaths in provinces.
Refuted: However, while responding to a supplementary question, the minister refuted his ministry’s reply, claiming that the ministry was undertaking the extensive survey.
“No sir, we are not sleeping over it and we will come with the results (of survey) in two-three months time,” he said, which reflected that the minister was either unaware of his ministry’s reply or he was lying to the parliamentarians.
In another written reply, the health minister said there was no proposal to establish government Maternity Homes in the country, at present. However, he added, through the National Maternal Neonatal and Childcare (MNCH) programme, the government was strengthening the emergency, obstetrics and neonatal Care services at district headquarters, tehsil headquarters and regional headquarters throughout the country. In another reply, the heath minister stated that there was no proposal under consideration to establish any new burn units in federal government hospitals of the major cities of the country.