LAHORE: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Sunday came down hard on Punjab Health Minister Yasmeen Rashid over the provincial government’s ‘unsatisfactory’ performance in the health sector.
A two-judge bench, headed by the chief justice, reprimanded the provincial minister over failure to comply with the court directives for carrying out first ever pediatric liver transplant at the Pakistan Liver and Kidney Research Institute (PKLI).
“The institute had been given to private individuals despite the government having spent Rs22 billion on it. It should have been taken over by the government,” Justice Nisar remarked.
When asked about legislation with regard to the institute, Yasmin Rashid said a draft bill had been sent to the provincial law department for review and approval.
“You gave a similar reply at the previous hearing,” CJP Nisar said, expressing displeasure over what he called the government’s lip-service. “You don’t want the Supreme Court to help the Punjab government.”
He questioned whether the first ever liver transplant surgery was performed at the institute.“We had given the deadline for carrying out the first surgery. This is your performance.”
“Bibi, you have to take care of it but you haven’t been doing anything,” Justice Nisar said while referring to the minister. “You and the Punjab government pay mere lip service at every hearing.”
“Incompetence and inefficiency have reached their peaks in Punjab. You haven’t been able to form even a commission till day. We are making the government’s incompetence in the case as a part of the court’s written order,” the chief justice said. “You have failed to provide healthcare facilities in the province.”
The case was adjourned till the last week of February.
On Dec 2, the top judge had sought a detailed report from the PKLI regarding the appointment of specialist doctors and staff for carrying out paediatric liver transplant at the health facility.
At the outset of the proceedings, the chief justice expressed his dismay over lack of facilities at the PKLI to carry out a paediatric liver transplant.
He observed that despite spending billions, the institute was still not complete.
He questioned that if India could carry out paediatric liver transplant, then why it could not be done in Pakistan.
Later, on Dec 30, the Supreme Court had summoned the Punjab health minister and directed her to come up with a preliminary plan to start paediatric liver transplant at the Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute (PKLI), a project of the previous government.
PKLI President Prof Jawad Sajid Khan had told the bench that the hospital was ready to conduct one or two adult liver transplantation but the regular adult surgery could not be started before June 2019. As far as paediatric surgery is concerned, he said operation theater, intensive care unit and imaging section are fully equipped but the PKLI did not have required surgeon or supporting staff.
Expressing dismay over the situation, the CJP had said: “We should be ashamed of ourselves. Even after 72 years of creation of Pakistan, we are unable to set up a single hospital for children’s liver transplant.”