KARACHI: Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday asked from the lawyer of Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) that which facilities are being provided to the poor people by the hospital and why it has failed to give a reply in this regard.
A two-member bench of the SHC, while hearing a petition against the AKUH for running the hospital for commercial basis instead of charity, asked from hospital’s counsel that the land was given to the Aga Khan Hospital for welfare objectives, and is it being used for that purpose.
The bench remarked that the court should be told in writing that how many poor people are being treated at Aga Khan University Hospital free of charge.
The petitioner’s counsel Dur Muhammad Shah told the court that Sindh government had provided precious land, free of cost, to Aga Khan University Hospital for charity and welfare purpose, but the hospital was being run purely for commercial purposes instead of charity and welfare.
He said in AKUH tests are expensive and doctors’ fees very heavy. He said the hospital is also getting fees of walking track from people who use this walking track for being healthy.
Shah also said that neither the doctor nor machine service is being provided for walkers but the fee is received from them.
Chief Secretary of Sindh, Agha Khan administration, secretary health, and deputy commissioner are made respondents in the petition.
It may be noted that petitioner Dur Mohammad Shah in his plea has submitted that the AKUH was allotted land by the deputy commissioner of District East for the construction of a charitable hospital and medical college, with the condition that no portion of the land “shall be used for the commercial purpose”.
He said that under Section 10 (4) of the Colonisation of Government Lands Act, the payment of land revenue annual assessment charges had to be made and recovered from the AKUH and it required a revised assessment on the expiration of the term after 10 years when the settlement of land was executed. He submitted that no annual assessment of payment of land revenue on the expiry of 10 years had ever been made or recovered from the university hospital by the government; besides, several blocks were being constructed by the hospital without getting approval from the relevant government agencies.
The petitioner said the AKUH had said on its official website that patient welfare and Zakat programmes gave financial assistance to patients who were unable to pay the fees, but practically they were charging patients higher fees than those charged by other charitable hospitals. According to the petitioner, the AKUH was built and operated for charitable purposes in order to serve the poor people, but unfortunately, it was providing the medical facility at a heavy cost. He said poor patients could not afford the specialised healthcare that they desperately needed.
He submitted that the university hospital was providing medical facilities to the higher-income group and corporate employees and it was extremely difficult for a common person to get medical treatment at such a high cost. The court was requested to direct the AKUH to provide medical facility to every poor and needy citizen free of cost as per the agreement for the grant of land to the hospital and produce the entire record of free medical care it had provided to the citizens. He also sought an investigation by the National Accountability Bureau over the alleged misuse of the land and the hospital’s failure to use the land for charitable hospital purposes.