Periodic warnings of social distancing by PM

Addressing the upgradation ceremony of 500 bed cantonment general hospital in Rawalpindi, Prime Minister Imran Khan once again advised people to follow health advisory and social distancing practices to remain safe from the local transmission of coronavirus. He said although the pandemic is on the upward trajectory, yet fortunately its spread is not as fast as it is being witnessed in the United States of America and European countries.

Expressing optimism about efforts to contain the virus, the Prime Minister said that the trend and intensity of the pandemic will become clear in a week time. He lamented over the deliberate neglect of social sector development, referring to the oblivious attitude of previous elected governments to set up well equipped new hospitals and expand the infrastructure in the existing ones for indoor treatment and provisions of diagnostic facilities. The same worse deal was given to education.  He rightly pointed out that condition of government hospitals had been satisfactory till the year 1970.

The Prime Minister appreciated the on time supply of medical equipment and virus testing kits by China, while giving first priority to Pakistan, the shipment of these items is still on. It merits mention that a few days ago automotive parts manufactures have informed the government about availability of local technology and manpower skills to manufacture ventilators, provided government extends monetary and fiscal incentives for its production. Two scientists Dr. Aneela Javed and Dr. Zohaib of Attaur Rehman School of Biosciences in the National University of Science and Technology have developed low cost coronavirus testing kit. The domestic potential of ventilators’ and virus test kits’ manufacturing needs to be utilised.

There is no .denial of the bitter fact that it were the unelected governments from 1960 and onward that focused on the expansion of curative healthcare system by opening new hospitals and improving the infrastructure both in teaching and district level hospitals. The elected governments of the other two mainstream political parties just named the hospitals built by unelected governed after political personalities of their respective parties to mislead people.

Reacting to calling spade a spade by the Prime Minister about the dilapidated healthcare system, PML-N spokesperson Maryam Aurangzeb claimed that upgradation project of Cantonment Hospital was launched in the previous government. The claim can be taken with a pinch of salt because neither a single new hospital project was launched in the last PML-N government outside the cantonment limits in Punjab nor health facilities were improved in the existing hospitals. Not releasing funds for the completion of Maternity Hospital in the constituency of Awami Muslim League President and presently Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad amply confirm the lack of interest of last PML-N government about improvement and expansion of health services.

The flamboyant response of Maryam Auranzeb on the true stance of the Prime Minister about the lack of facilities in government hospitals does not stand the litmus test. Her comments reflect that leadership of main opposition party PML-N does not have an ounce of shame and fear of God. Instead of being showing the light and spirit of humanity first by supporting government’s relentless efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic, party’s spokesperson is being directed to cut unnecessary political angles, which is really a pathetic mindset.