- Patients running from pillar to posts to receive free medication for the last 10 months
Patients at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) are running from pillar to posts to get registered to receive free medication since the government could not release the Zakat funds for the last 10 months.
A senior Social Welfare Department official told Pakistan Today that the PIMS has not received any fund under head of Zakat due to which the patients bore the brunt. The record of the patients registered for the Zakat fund is looked after by the Social Welfare Department of the hospital.
The official said that the government apathy towards health sector could be judged from the fact that PIMS could not receive the Zakat funds for the last 10 months and no one was here to talk on the issue. He said that the PIMS was getting Rs 20 million annually under the Zakat fund in two installments for over 13,000 patients.
Due to non-release of the funds, the hospital administration could not extend financial support to the patients. “We are trying our best to adjust poor patients through Baitul Mal, but it is not possible to accommodate all the patients; hence it is necessary the government should release the Zakat funds forthwith to ease the woes of the patients,” a senior official said.
The Zakat fund is provided to the hospital for the underprivileged people of the area to get healthcare facilities for major diseases including hepatitis, cancer, diabetes, cardiac and others free of cost. Another official said that hundreds of patients come and ask about the Zakat slips, they were either accommodated through the Baitul Mal or send back since the Zakat fund is not available.
He said that a patient registered for the treatment under the Zakat fund was entitled for Rs 3,000 for indoor treatment and Rs2,000 for the OPD, but due to influx of the patients, it is next to impossible to give everyone the required quantity of the medicines. Hence the hospital has to cut quantity of the medicine in order to avoid shortage to accommodate maximum number of the patients, he said.
He said that the problems mainly caused due to the 18th constitutional amendment since the amendment passed without any prior homework as there was no Health Ministry but mere a health regulatory authority at the federal level. He said that it was a very complicated process, as earlier it was dealt by the Ministry of Religious Affairs, but later Zakat funds were released to the hospitals in the federal capital through the Ministry of Interior Affairs.
However, he said that for the last one year, the Ministry of Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) was authorised to look into the matter of the Zakat funds. The official said that the funds first released to the district administration and then shifted to the hospital. He said that the hospital administration was providing emergency treatment to the patients from Baitul Mal fund.
However, it was quite shocking that the hospital management never approached CADD Ministry and the district administration for the Zakat fund. PIMS Executive Director Dr Raja Amjid Mahmood was unaware of any such development and refused to accept that the hospital was providing free treatment to the poor patients through the Baitul Mal.
However, when he was asked to check whether the hospital being provided the Zakat fund, he accepted after confirmation that his institution did not get the funds under the head of the Zakat.
When this scribe approached CADD Secretary Azhar Chaudhry for comments, he replied, “I am on leave. Mr Gulzar Shah or Alamgir Khan would be in a better position to update you.” Despite repeated attempts, CADD Minister Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and Joint Secretary for Health Gulzar Shah could not be reached for their comments on the issue.