The Ministry of National Health Services on Sunday urged citizens not to pay heed to “rumors” after a letter from the ministry with a request for the appointment of serving officers of the Pakistan Army Medical Corps to head Islamabad’s hospitals went viral on social media.
On Saturday, a letter from the ministry to the Defense Ministry sought the appointment of serving officers of the Pakistan Army Medical Corps as the executive directors of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) and Federal Government Polyclinic Hospital (FGPC) in Islamabad. In the letter, the ministry had expressed lack of confidence in officers working in its subordinate departments for the posts, claiming they were lying vacant because there were no eligible candidates.
“In order to ensure effective healthcare service delivery [to] the public at large in ICT [Islamabad Capital Territory], it has been desired to fill the posts on secondment basis from Pakistan Army Medical Corps as an interim arrangement,” it said and sought information on the availability of “qualified and capable hospital managers” for a three-year deputation.
The letter attracted much criticism, with medical professionals and civilians alike questioning how only the Army had suitable hospital managers and noting the “brain drain” Pakistan annually experiences due to a lack of adequate employment for the doctors the country already has.
In the National Health Ministry’s rejoinder, it maintained recruitments for the posts would be carried out per proper procedure and merit, adding this decision was taken by the federal health minister during a meeting on Aug. 25, 2023. Claiming no “misleading and false news” could stop the ministry from its mission of introducing reforms in Pakistan, it said it was the right of the government or health ministry to select the most suitable candidates to improve the delivery of services to the people.
However, the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) has not taken kindly to the letter’s contents, with its Islamabad chapter advising the federal health ministry to “refrain” from appointing serving military officials to the management posts of PIMS and the Polyclinic Hospital.
Condemning the letter, the PMA said the appointment of military officials in lieu of federal government officials was not acceptable at any cost. It claimed even military authorities would not welcome such a step.