SC orders Punjab health minister to procure 279 ventilators within four months


–CJP says should call CM to court and get summaries approved 

LAHORE: The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave a deadline of four months to Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid to obtain 279 ventilators.

The directive was made as a case regarding a lack of ventilators in government hospitals was heard at the Lahore Registry of the top court.

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar expressed annoyance at the state of facilities in government hospitals. In response, Yasmin Rashid informed the court that a summary has been sent to the Punjab chief minister for the procurement of ventilators.

“How many summaries are with the chief minister?” CJP Nisar inquired.

“You think ventilators are a joke?”

“We should call the chief minister here and get the summaries approved,” he added.

The provincial health minister responded that in accordance with the rules of the Punjab Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA), the incumbent chief minister cannot approve the summary. She added that the previous Punjab chief minister also did not approve the summaries.

“Can hospitals run without ventilators?” the CJP inquired in response.

“Ventilators are taken from the poor and given to the rich,” he observed.

“It is the government’s responsibility to provide free ventilators to patients,” he remarked, while observing that Rs23,000 per bed were being charged for an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in private hospitals.

He further observed that Rs5,000 are being charged at private hospitals for a ventilator.

Dr Yasmin Rashid responded that she will get the summary approved within 10 days.

The top court then directed the health minister to procure the ventilators within a period of four months.