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Healthcare workers launch protest against new law – Journal

PESHAWAR: Members of the Grand Health Alliance have launched a protest against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s new Health Facilities Management Act 2022, saying it aims to privatize hospitals and convert their regular services to contract services.

The new law replaced the District and Regional Health Authorities Act, 2019 to provide better healthcare services to patients through improved management and administration of hospitals in the province. The new law provides for the creation of a Regional Health Authority (RAH) at departmental level to manage all health establishments in the region concerned.

Members of the Grand Health Alliance, including doctors, paramedics and nurses, however, argue that the new law is not acceptable to them because it would give administrative and financial powers to councils, whose members would be drawn from the private sector.

According to the law, the government will establish the RAH at the divisional level which will take control of the health facilities to pass through the Board of Governors (BoG). The Deputy Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Executive Officer and the Chief Financial Officer of each RAH will be vested with all financial and administrative powers.

The BoG shall have full authority to appoint relevant hospital staff on a contractual or alternate basis and to terminate the services of employees it has hired. The new law also provides for the creation of a “guidance council” at the provincial level for the supervision of RAHs. The Policy Board will be headed by the Provincial Minister of Health while the Secretary of the Department of Health, the Director General of Health Services and the chairs of the respective BoGs will be the members.

Under the law, a nominating committee would be formed to appoint RAH members. The Minister of Health will lead the committee while the Secretary of Health, Director General of Health Services, representatives from Khyber Medical University, University of Peshawar, public and private hospitals and members of civil society, who will be appointed by the Chief Minister, will be its members. Each RAH will also have advisory and inspection committees.

GHA members began wearing black armbands to register their protest against the law. They say they are public servants and entitled to pensions and other benefits according to government rules. The new law would give public servants the option to opt for absorption into the respective RAHs within 60 days, after which they would be considered delegated employees by the health department. Civil servants on deputation would be entitled to a pension under the Civilian Sevenths Act 1973.

Posted in Dawn, June 10, 2022

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