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Strikes, shutdowns force donors to abandon PIMS

Islamabad:Continuing strikes and shutdown of administrative services at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) has forced the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Tokyo to suspend the tender of the project for extension of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Centre and Children’s Hospital of PIMS, reliable sources told ‘The News’ here on Sunday.

The story of the decline of PIMS as an institution does not end here. In a related development, the PSDP funding for the hospital is also in doldrums because of bureaucratic failure to appoint a financial management authority at PIMS following the unceremonious exit of Dr. Anser Maxood as the Executive Director.

In the first instance, JICA Tokyo has informed Dr. Anser, who is now the Medical Director of PIMS under the controversial Medical teaching Institutes (MTI) Ordinance that has sparked unrest at PIMS, of its decision to suspend the tender procedure for extension of the ICUs.

A letter dated January 22 refers to serious discussions having taken place regarding the current situation at PIMS, and grave concerns having been expressed about continuing strikes and shutdowns.

“To promote the project, JICA Tokyo has requested evidence of stability of PIMS and continuous implementation of the project. Please provide us such evidence showing that PIMS continues to have administrative and technical capacity for the project,” demands the letter, copies of which have also been sent to the Director of Economic Affairs Division, Ministry of Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, and the Director of Planning and Development Department, Ministry of National Health Services.

JICA Tokyo has sought immediate submission of evidence of stability at PIMS as a prerequisite to re-start the tender process. However, the way things currently stand—with the government pursuing fast-track implementation of the MTI Ordinance and PIMS employees resisting it tooth and nail—it would be foolish to expect even a semblance of normalcy returning to PIMS any time soon.

“Up until now, PIMS employees have been struggling for preservation of their civil service status and patients’ right to free treatment; they are also resisting privatization of the hospital. The spectacle of donors and funding agencies withdrawing their projects from the hospital has added a new dimension to the crisis, which clearly demonstrates the MTI-constituted Board of Governors’ failure to steer the ship of PIMS out of troubled waters,” a senior consultant commented. He termed “power hungry and opportunistic backdoor entries” as being responsible for ruining the prime healthcare institution of the capital.

In the second instance, which pertains to PSDP funds, a total of 14 projects worth over a billion rupees will not be processed during the current fiscal year ending June 2021. Most of these projects pertain to expansion, renovation or upgradation of existing facilities, procurement of equipment for various departments, and construction of a hostel and a 200-bed Accident and Emergency Centre.

The affected projects and the budget allocated for each are: construction of female doctors’ hostel (Rs222.062 million), installation of incinerators as part of upgradation of the hospital waste management system (Rs56.892 million), replacement and upgradation of HVAC plant room, equipment and allied works (Rs725 million), extension of Intensive Care Department at the MCH Centre and Children’s Hospital (Rs4270.586 million), upgrading of the Compartment of Nephrology (Rs72 million), upgradation of non-radiation modern endoscopy diagnostic services (Rs198.130 million), upgradation of existing facilities (Rs200 million), upgradation of gastroenterology department and replacement of equipment for advance liver and HI diseases (Rs405 million), establishment of 200 Beds Accident and Emergency Centre (Rs61.760 million), installation of Chiller for Mortuary Department (Rs30.450 million), procurement of equipment for ENT and Neck Surgery Department (Rs59.900 million), procurement of equipment for Ophthalmology Department (Rs80 million), procurement of MRI equipment for Radiology Department (Rs403 million) and upgradation and renovation of existing MICU of Islamabad Hospital at PIMS (Rs59.730 million).

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