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JPMC considers ending association with SMC

KARACHI, Aug 28: To get their premises "depoliticised", authorities at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) are considering a plan to end their association with the neighbouring Sindh Medical College (SMC), said sources in the major public sector hospital on Monday.

They said people at the helm had expressed the view that although it might create enormous problems both for the college and the hospital, such a move would help improve the law and order situation at the hospital where thousands of patients were attended to daily.

Since Aug 15, the federal government-run JPMC has experienced two major clashes within its precincts. Two students of the rehabilitation and physiotherapy school have been killed and many wounded in the clashes between the two rival groups which seems to have set up their bases the SMC.

The hospital business remained suspended for about five days after the incident as each student group tried to establish its supremacy.

After the first incident of killing and injuries on Aug 15, the controlling authority of the SMC, the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS), had closed its hostel facilities on boy students, but a repeat of the gory incident that claimed yet another life of a JPMC student on Aug 25 caused concern among the doctors community, calling for fool-proof arrangements and check on influx of students at the hospital from outside.

The SMC, which was made functional under the provincial government in 1973, does not have attached teaching hospital like the other public medical colleges and its students receive their clinical training for at least three years at the JPMC and two other institutions located in the vicinity of the college. The hospital also entertains about 250 house-officers graduating from the SMC.

A source said that sometime back also the federal government had been requested by the hospital to devise a detachment of the province-run SMC as there was a plan to raise a federal health university at the JPMC.

A senior doctor said that the students of physiotherapy, medical technology or nursing colleges, run by the JPMC, were not the threatening factors, but it were the students of the medical college and outsiders in the guise of students who frequented the hospital and remained there unmonitored vitiating the hospital atmosphere.

The solution lies in de-linking of the hospital from the SMC and its hostel, said the doctor, adding that the process needed a long-term plan for phasing out the SMC students.

Another source said the hospital could also shift its various schools and colleges away from the premises or investigate the candidates' credentials before granting them admission.

The administration is considering all options to ensure a tension-free, smooth and congenial atmosphere for the staff and patients and their relatives coming from all parts of the province and country, the source said.

After the suspension of patient management activities for about two days, patients and their relatives were allowed to enter the hospital, amidst tight security, on Monday.

Heavy contingents of Rangers and police were deployed to check the entry of politically-motivated students and alleged hooligans and to rise to any mishap and control the law and order situation, said a source.

However, the day remained peaceful at the JPMC, while the adjacent SMC remained closed for students. The hospital authorities have also ordered the closure of the schools of medical-technology and physiotherapy for an indefinite period.

A doctor at the emergency and casualty department said the reporting of patients was slow in the morning, but the situation improved after midday. Hospital staff in the presence of law-enforcement personnel also removed graffiti from walls and installations in the hospital on Monday.

The executive director of JPMC, Prof Rashid Jooma, said the overall attendance of doctors and paramedical and technical staff was close to usual on Monday and the OPDs functioned as per schedule. He said the provincial government had taken necessary security measures at the hospital and he personally felt that it would take some more time to ease the situation.

Replying to a question, Prof Jooma said that the JPMC had recommended to the federal health ministry a review of the relation between the hospital and the medical college.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Islamic Medical Association, Karachi, has demanded that the Sindh High Court take notice of the ugly developments that took place at the JPMC recently.

A spokesman for the association said that it was all due to the incompetence of the hospital administration that two students lost their lives in the presence of security personnel.

The association noted that the current tense situation at the hospital was the result of ineffectiveness of the law enforcement agencies and as such the courts should intervene. Dawn
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