Court moved against BHUs, RHCs privatisation

PESHAWAR: The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter, has moved the Peshawar High Court (PHC) against privatisation of basic health units (BHUs) and rural health centres (RHCs) by the provincial government and handing them over to the non-governmental organisations.

The PMA’s provincial president Dr Hussain Ahmad Haroon filed the writ petition in the PHC through his legal counsel Mohibullah Kakakhel against the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Department.

Director general Health Services, chief planning officer of the Health Department, executive district officers (EDOs-Health) of Swat and Nowshera, chairman Abaseen Foundation and executive director URDO and representatives of various NGOs have been made respondents in the case. The petitioner submitted that the People’s Primary Healthcare Initiative (PPHI) was a health programme run by the government and its employees were paid from the public exchequer. He said the BHUs in 17 districts along with three hospitals have been handed over to the PPHI.

It was claimed in the petition that the Health Department had given the DHQ Hospital in Timergara to a foreign NGO. Almost two years ago, it said, the Rural Health Centre Nahaqi had been given to another NGO, Abaseen Health Foundation.

The petitioner pointed out that four rural health centres (RHCs) including Naki, Nizampur, Kalam and Mian Rashid Hussain Shaheed Memorial Hospital were privatised. He claimed that RHC Kalam in Swat had been given to the brother of Jaffar Shah, a member of the provincial assembly belonging to the ruling ANP.

He submitted that the BHUs and RHCs were public properties and national asset and were being privatised illegally.

He said thousands of staff members of the BHUs and RHCs were getting salaries amounting to billions of rupees from the public exchequer, but the private sector was benefitting from these health outlets. The petitioner contended that the government had declared health an essential service and, therefore, no health unit can be given to the private sector, especially when the department has got more than 40,000 employees enjoying full-fledged basic service structure and has a director general, secretary and EDOs. Many hospitals have their medical superintendents who have got their subordinates, he added.

“The privatisation is being carried out by giving BHUs and RHCs to various private organisations so much so that even in the main hospitals the services have been privatised and contractors are daily earning millions of rupees and from this amount the the specialists doctors are paid 60 percent,” said the petitioner.

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