Punjab Govt. should refrain from interfering in the autonomy of PKLI

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Punjab Govt. should refrain from
interfering in the autonomy of PKLI
Let Dr.Saeed Akhtar and his team run and manage
this mega health project to achieve its potential

LAHORE: Despite the hurdles created by the vested interests and un-necessary and uncalled for interference by the former Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, the performance of Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute, Research Center is commendable. According to reports it has provided service to 2.2 million patients who have visited this institutions so far ever since its inception of which 89% of patients were provided free or highly subsidized treatment. One sincerely hopes that the provincial government of Punjab will not politicize this institution, refrain from interfering in its autonomy and let Dr. Saeed Akhtar and his team run and manage this institutions so that it can achieve its desired potential.

The suo motu notice taken by the former chief justice has already adversely affected the progress and development of this institution. As per its original plan, the bed strength of PKLI had to be increased to 1500 beds including 100-beds each for emergency centre, intensive care unit and outpatient dialysis center, five hundred in-patient facilities with twenty operating rooms and ten-same day surgery units. PKLI is located on a fifty acre of land in Lahore Knowledge City. When Dr. Saeed Akhtar approached the former Chief Minister of Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif for a piece of land for this project, he not only provided the land but also promised funding to complete the project as soon as possible so that transplant facilities could be provided to the patients including kidney and particularly liver transplant since patients were going to India and China. PKLI was the brain child of Dr. Saeed Akhtar who conceived it and arranged lot of funding through donations. Supreme Court under the new Chief Justice reversed the earlier Apex court decision and restored the PKLI management but it appears the present Punjab Government is bent upon destroying this facility. The mere fact that it was supported whole heartedly by Mian Shahbaz Shareef through enormous funding to ensure its early completion should not earn the wrath of the PTI Government in Punjab. Sharif brothers have committed many other similar “sins and crimes” of public welfare and millions of people who travel on Motorways throughout the country and on Metro Buses daily just to mention a few, pray for their long life. One hopes that better sense will prevail and the provincial government will allow free hand to PKLI, restore its autonomy while ensuring monitoring and accountability to which no one will have any objection.

Dr. Saeed Akhtar has been frequently travelling abroad to convince Pakistani doctors to come back and serve their own country and he had been successful to persuade over one hundred specialists in various disciplines of medicine most of whom are earning millions of dollars annually to come back and play their role in improving the healthcare in Paksitan. They have agreed to work on much less remuneration than they are earning at present. By establishing this PKLI facility Dr. Saeed had just provided them an opportunity and conducive, comfortable working environment so that they can work with devotion and dedication. However, the way Dr. Saeed Akhtar was humiliated and defamed in the open court by the former Chief Justice has sent a very wrong signal to those who had plans to come back. This latest attempt to rob the PKLI of its autonomy by the provincial government has also not gone well and some eminent clinicians who had agreed to come and work at PKLI has refused to come and work here under the changed circumstances. For the last eleven months Dr. Saeed and his colleagues have been facing investigating agencies with the result that procurement of equipment and instruments has also been delayed. The PKLI, it is further learnt has already suffered a loss of over six billion rupees thanks to the intervention by the former Chief Justice of Pakistan.

The PKLI project, it may be mentioned here is largely dependent on donations. The Board of Trustees of the PKLI had already collected over 80million rupees for the procurement of equipment. After the retirement of Justice Saqib Nisar the PKLI successfully conducted the first liver transplant last month which should have been conducted in September 2018 as per original plan. All the expenditures for this liver transplant were borne by the board of trustees from the donations it had collected.

PKLI had also started the Hepatitis Prevention and Treatment Programme in the province which also suffered a great set back during the last year due to investigations. This unique initiative was recognized by the World Health Organization for its excellence. Under this programme the PKLI has performed 15,775 ultrasound tests, 914,872 laboratory tests and 4,942 procedures of FibroScan besides performing 2,243 endoscopies. All these services were totally free of charge. Not only had that, during just one year PKLI established 24 clinics all over the province.

It is not the government duty to run and manage such institutions. Instead it should concentrate to improve the functioning of those healthcare facilities already under its control which present not so satisfactory situation. It needs to pay attention to provide comfortable environment, security to the healthcare professionals working in public sector who many a times have to work under difficult circumstances since the expectations of people and the society at large have increased during the past couple of years. The price of Judiciary intervention in the Steel Mills case is being paid by the people of Pakistan now for the last many years. All of us must learn some lessons from such past experiences and desist from undue and uncalled for interventions in ventures established as public-private partnership like PKLI. People like Dr. Saeed Akhtar needs to be congratulated, commended and appreciated so that more and more Pakistani talent still working abroad could be attracted back. Many counties like Malaysia, China, India etc., have made tremendous progress by utilizing the competence and capabilities of their countrymen who were given incentives to return to their motherland and they have done wonders. However, our politicians fail to learn any lessons from the success stories in these countries but on the other hand, humiliate, defame them and certain media outlets also join in their character assassination without trying to find the real facts. Professional jealousies also play its role and the country suffers in return.