PESHAWAR: On Monday, health minister Taimur Saleem Khan Jhagra blamed the health system for the death of six patients at Peshawar’s Khyber Teaching Hospital because of oxygen shortages as his resignation was demanded by the opposition.
The opposition members chanted slogans during a provincial assembly presided by Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani and showed placards inscribed with demands for Mr Jhagra’s resignation as health minister over the KTH deaths that occurred in the early hours of Sunday following the suspension of the supply of oxygen.
The finance and health portfolios are owned by Mr Jhagra.
The Joint Opposition dismissed the opinion of the KTH Board of Governors’ preliminary investigation into the incident and set up its own commission to investigate the causes of oxygen scarcity that killed six patients, including four reported cases of Covid-19.
Tells PA that one secy or DG can’t manage 1,500 health facilities
Parliamentary leaders of the opposition parties met in the Opposition Leader Akram Khan Durrani’s Chamber before the House hearings started and agreed that the opposition parties would continue to demonstrate until the government took legal action against the individuals involved in the unfortunate KTH incident.
A seven-member committee comprising its representatives was formed by the opposition to look into six deaths. The council, led by Khushdil Khan, an ANP supporter, will submit its report within seven days.
The opposition has also agreed to set up a protest camp in front of the Secretariat of the Chief Minister on a regular basis from Tuesday. If the state adjourned the new one for an indefinite time, it decided to order the sitting.
MPA Khushdil Khan, speaking on a joint point of order, came down harshly on the government over the deaths of KTH and asked the health minister to tender a resignation.
We [the opposition] are denying this investigative paper,’ he added.
Nighat Yasmin Orakzai, a member of the Pakistan Peoples Party, called the death of KTH murder patients and said the government could not absolve itself from the blame.
“We [the opposition] thought that the Minister of Health would come to the house with a letter of resignation in hand,” she said.
“In reference to Prime Minister Imran Khan, Orakzai said If Niazi Sahib has moral strength, then he should ask the Minister of Health to resign immediately.
PPP lawmaker Ahmad Kundi said that halting the death of one KTH director was not enough.
He urged the minister of health to recognise and hold them responsible for the key culprits.
Mr Kundi said that if he did not have much time to handle them, Mr Jhagra could abandon the portfolios.
The Muttahida Majlis-i-Mian Amal’s Nisar Gul Kakakhel said that the in charge trainee medical officer (TMO) was told at 8 pm about the oxygen shortage, but he did not take notice. In the one hand, he said the government was talking about the Covid-19 emergency, but on the other, patients in hospitals did not get beds and oxygen.
Sardar Mohammad Yousaf, a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supporter, urged the government to keep the people responsible for the KTH incident.
He said if the government could not accommodate the supply of oxygen to a big hospital in Peshawar, then what would be the state of the health system in the province’s far-flung areas?
In response to the point of order, health minister Jhagra called the incident the fault of the healthcare system instead of accepting blame for deaths and offered himself to face opposition questions and criticism.
For me the problem is not resignation. I still keep two resignations in my pockets and this is the prerogative of the chief minister to order me to leave either or both portfolios at any time,’ he added.
Aside from political concern, the Minister said that the treasury and the opposition should genuinely work together to strengthen the scheme.
During the PTI tenure, he alleged change in the healthcare sector but claimed there was still room for improvement. He said the government would not withhold the specifics of the incident, since the investigation had already been made public by the KTH BoG, an independent body.
“We gave clear directions; do not hide anything and spare no one,” said Mr. Jhagra, who, despite being renowned for his violent disposition, burst into a compromise note.
He told the legislators that the meeting was chaired by Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, addressed the case, and ordered another inquiry within five days.
The minister said that if the need emerged, the government was able to hold another impartial inquiry and that neither he nor the government would avoid responsibility.
He urged the opposition not to anger the offenders and keep the suspects responsible.
Mr Jhagra acknowledged that between 8pm and am the oxygen level was not tracked.
He recommended devolution of the framework for health delivery.
He said the activities of 1,500 health institutions in the province could not be handled by one health secretary or director general.
“The devolution of the system is the only way forward,” he added.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police (Amendment) Bill, 2020, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Welfare Services Suppliers and Facilities (Violence Reduction and Property Damage) Bill, 2020 and the Pakhtunkhwa Electricity Development Organisation Bill, 2020 were approved by the assembly.