KARACHI: The federal government has decided not to take control of three major public hospitals in Karachi and will give their ownership back to the Sindh government on Saturday.
The decision that the Centre would be unable to run the three healthcare facilities in Karachi – National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD), Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) and National Institute of Child Health (NICH) – was taken during a meeting of the federal cabinet.
In a landmark judgment in January this year, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had ordered the federal government to take over control of NICVD, JPMC and NICH from Sindh and given 90 days to both the governments for a smooth transition. The deadline, however, ended by mid-April, but the federal health authorities made no attempts to take over the administration of the healthcare facilities.
The Sindh government had filed a review petition in the apex court, seeking reversal of its earlier order and permission to run the hospitals, claiming they had added services to the facilities and they were running them better than the federal government. The provincial government said it had also approached the Centre to clarify whether or not it wants to take over and run the three healthcare facilities.
But the federal government has now taken a decision on the matter, according to minutes of the federal cabinet’s meeting and will not be able to run the hospitals given its current financial situation.
The federal government intends to move the apex court, appealing to it to give back control of the hospitals to the provincial government.
The ownership of NICVD, JPMC and NICH has been a matter of dispute between the federal and provincial government for some time now. The three public sector hospitals previously run by the federal government had come under the control of the Sindh government following the 18th Constitutional Amendment, by which the health sector was devolved from the federation to the provinces.
The Sindh health department claims it provides Rs8.8 billion to run the NICVD while, similarly, several billion rupees are provided as recurring budget to JPMC and NICH by the provincial government.