KARACHI-The health department is yet to release a notification on Sindh Health Care Commission’s chairman who was elected to the post over two months ago. In the absence of a chairman, they said, the six commissioners of the regulatory body who were elected last year, couldn’t take up their responsibilities, rendering the commission ineffective. Expressing concern over this situation, General Secretary of Pakistan Medical Association-Sindh Dr Zaman Baloch alleged that the commission’s current operation by directors and deputy directors was “absolutely illegal”. “It’s being used to mint money from qualified medical practitioners. The association gets complaints from doctors on a daily basis who spoke of excesses on the hands of SHCC officials,” he said, adding that the matter of delayed notification had been taken up with relevant officials multiple times.
According to him, both patients and doctors have been suffering for over a year due to the prolonged delay in the whole election process, and now release of the elected chairman’s notification. “This situation is unfortunate and indicates government’s lack of commitment and sincerity towards public health.” On behalf of the association, Dr Baloch demanded that the health department immediately notify the relevant notification and let the elected representatives take charge of their duties. Sources said the tenure of the previous commission members and chairman was completed in June, 2022, after which elections were held for the commissioners in July the same year.
The seven members elected as commissioners last year were: Dr Khalid Sheikh (retired special secretary), Dr Anees Hussain Mousvi (retired bureaucrat), Prof Sameer Qureshi (retired professor of ENT), Dr Shoaib Gangat (professor of surgery), Dr Sajjad Siddiqui (PMA), Dr Mirza Ali Azhar (PMA) and Dr Abdul Ghafoor Shoro (PMA). The sources said these commissioners were notified after a delay of six to seven months in violation of rules and regulations. Then, the health department kept on delaying the election of the commission’s chairman, which was finally held on June 9, 2023.
Dr Khalid Sheikh, sources said, was elected as SHCC chairman, but the health department hadn’t notified his election yet. It might be recalled that SHCC – an autonomous body meant to regulate the quality and standards of healthcare services in the province – had been experiencing hiccups in operation since its establishment. The commission was notified on March 20, 2014 after the Sindh Assembly had passed a law — the Sindh Health Care Commission Act 2013 — on Feb 24, 2014. However, the commission was officially launched after a delay of around four years in 2018. The commission’s responsibilities included taking up complaints against doctors and healthcare administrations. Doctors allege that the government wants to control the commission that has often been used to harass doctors whereas quacks have been given a free hand.