Medical College Project Fails in Peshawar

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Lack of interest on the part of the health department and opposition by the teaching staff of Lady Reading Hospital has in fact blocked the establishment of a new medical college in Peshawar, which was about to start admissions. Early in 2012 then Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government planned establishment of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Medical College (ZABMC) in Peshawar, which could have been the 10th public sector facility in the province, but the project didn’t see light of the day. It was so mainly because of the LRH teaching staff blocking the move as they were supposed to teach in the new college without being paid additional salaries like their counterparts in other colleges affiliated with teaching hospitals. The Pakistan Peoples Party, which held the health ministry in the Awami National Party-led coalition government, had planned the college in a building being constructed at that time for the Postgraduate Paramedical Institute (PGPI) at the Provincial Health Services Academy in Duranpur, Peshawar. The previous government had also allocated Rs24 million for purchase of equipments and Rs90 million for recruitment of teaching staff for the college. Meanwhile, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Paramedical Association went to court against the government’s decision of allotting the building to ZABMC and requested its possession to house PGPI for which it was originally built.

The government kept persuading the association by allotting it a building built for the offices of the Nursing Education Board (NEB) in Hayatabad Township at a cost of Rs25 million. The association refused to accept the NEB building and insisted on getting the new place at the health services academy in Duranpur for PGPI. NEB is located in temporary premises at the postgraduate nursing college in Hayatabad and was about to shift to the new venue when the government decision came. Controller NEB also went to court and argued that its temporary infrastructure was too small to cater to the growing needs of students of nursing schools and colleges. Like in paramedics’ case, the court ordered the government to resolve the problem of NEB offices with relevant officials. As the court-related wrangling was in progress, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led government was formed in the province that didn’t show any interest to establish a college with the ZAB’s name. At a meeting held on June 27, 2013 the PTI-led government decided to hand over the PGPI and NEB their respective buildings, citing court’s directives. The meeting said that the three institutions, including ZABMC, NEB and PGPI, worked under the control of the health department and sometime the department had to shift their office location from one place to another in case there was no option in view of shortage of land in the vicinity. It said that the department had to shift offices in larger public interest and the employees shouldn’t go to courts. It was also agreed in the meeting attended by special secretary health, planning officers and representatives of paramedics and nurses that the government servants should follow the government instructions in fulfillment of their duties.

Source: Dawn.