No Free Treatment for Afghan Refugees and Nationals - HMC

Written by  Published by:Pakistan Views Tuesday, 22 September 2015 18:02

PESHAWAR: The Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC) administration has imposed a ban on free treatment of Afghan refugees and nationals.

A burden on financial resources

HMC officials, requesting anonymity as they were not authorised to talk to the media, said the decision to impose the ban was taken during a board of governors (BOG) meeting when it became evident that HMC was in financial troubles.

“There used to be a quota for the treatment of Afghan nationals and refugees at HMC, however, for the past three years, it had not been followed,” said an HMC administration official. “The expenditure report from the finance department for fiscal years 2012 to 2015 clearly shows how the quota system was disregarded completely.”

Another HMC official said funds issued by the government and different NGOs for the treatment of cancer, cardiac and diabetic patients also did not include free treatment for Afghans.

HMC finance department officials said Afghan nationals as well as refugees had a fixed quota for free treatment which was implemented given the availability of funds. “However, since the hospital is now autonomous and generates its own money, it is quite evident as to why the quota system has been disbanded,” he said.

Another official stated the ban was imposed unanimously where free treatment for Afghans was deemed “a burden on financial resources.”

Alternative view

When contacted, BOG Chairman Sahibzada Saeed denied the development. Saeed said the idea had been discussed in a board meeting but was never implemented, despite the fact that many sources confirmed the imposition of the ban.

Saeed said, “The idea was discussed but status quo was maintained. If pressure mounts, we will take the decision but so far the board has refused to impose a ban.”

HMC versus other hospitals

Since HMC was one of three major hospitals in the provincial capital offering free treatment to Afghans, the imposition of the ban caused other hospital managements to become more wary.

An official said HMC is an autonomous body and the announcement has nothing to do with the provincial government.

Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) Public Relations Officer (PRO) Jamil Shah said his hospital management had not issued any notification or directions regarding treatment of Afghans.

According to Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH) PRO Farhad, “Recently, we have been directed to ask for documents and national identity cards before admitting patients to the surgical department but no orders have been issued regarding the ban of [free] treatment for Afghans.”

In the past

“Sometimes it is difficult for us to differentiate between Afghan and Pakistani nationals and that is when we ask patients to show us computerised national identity cards,” one of the HMC administration officials said. “Anyone with a computerised national identity card, whether or not an Afghan national, qualifies for free medical treatment.

“Thousands of Afghan nationals travel to Pakistan via Torkham Border on a daily basis to seek cures to various illnesses,” the official added. “Majority of them end up at HMC since the treatment here is either free or highly subsidised.”

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