SZH tug of war ends

LAHORE – As a dream come true, Shaikh Zayed Hospital has been finally transferred to the Punjab government after the passage of the 20th Amendment and a notification has been issued on Tuesday.

The Punjab government had been pressing upon the federal government since the passage of the 18th Amendment which devolved the Health Ministry to provinces to transfer the SZH to the provincial government. However, the federal government kept the hospital working through the cabinet division and refused to transfer it to the province. Moreover, the academic council and employees of the hospital had shown their resolve several times recently to stay with the centre. Sources said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz “sought” the transfer of the hospital and the consideration of a list of demands in its recent talks with the Pakistan People’s Party over the passage of the 20th Amendment.

Stakeholders, including doctors and patients, however believe that the transfer of the city’s premier health facility to the provincial government has placed a huge question mark over the performance of the health sector which has been under severe criticism nationwide over the deaths caused by the Punjab Institute of Cardiology drug scandal. They further said it would put a lot of burden on Punjab Chief Minister Shahaz Sharif who has refused to leave the health portfolio despite so much “havoc”.Another question that revolves around the status of the SZH is that currently a notification has only been issued to transfer the hospital, its establishment and all attached offices to the provincial government. Health Secretary Captain (r) Arif Nadeem said the cabinet division had only issued a notification handing over the hospital to the provincial government, however, a lot of work needed to be done regarding the status of the hospital. “The Health Department will decide what status is to be given to the hospital and then propose it to the chief minister,” he said, adding that the aim was to let the hospital work as it was working or “change for the better”.

SZH Chairman Professor Zafar Iqbal however said the doctors worked for the government, be it provincial or federal. He said the aim of doctors was to play a role in the progress of the hospital. He further said a meeting of the academic council, with senior doctors, had been called and important decision regarding the hospital’s administration structure would be made in it. – PT