PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) has slammed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Healthcare Commission (HCC) for failure to fix the rates of diagnostic tests, as a result, the poor patients struggle to afford diagnostic testing charges.

A two-judge bench of PHC comprising Justice Qaiser Rashid and Justice Lal Jan Khattak conducted the hearing of the case regarding the pricing of tests in laboratories in the province. The Director Operations of the Healthcare Commission appeared before the bench. The official told the court that a board has been set up to determine the rates of tests in consultation with the laboratories across the province which will soon decide the matter.

The response of the government official further annoyed the judge. “Do the officials of the commission come to the office only for tea,” justice Qaiser said. Adding that the provincial government has shown a lack of seriousness in a very serious matter. The judge remarked that the government department works only after the court takes the notice.

The judge went on to remark that some media reporters are doing ‘great job’ and are highlighting the issues of public importance on time. “There are brave people in the media who are bringing the issues of public importance our court’s notice,” Justice Qaise said. He asked the director operation of HCC that it is also the responsibility of the government officials to take notice and provide relief to the masses.

The bench observed that the tests that cost not more than Rs100-200 are being conducted in thousands in the province. “We do not need the officials who come to the office just for meetings drinking tea in the office,” the judge said.

The bench also questioned the increase in medicine prices and said that it has become difficult to buy antibiotics during flu season. “Prices of medicine have been increased by Rs300 to Rs400 in the market by the present government,” the judge observed. The bench has summoned the chairman Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Drug Regulatory Authority and adjourned the case till November 19.

 To regulate the rates of private and public sector hospitals, clinics and laboratories and to launch a crackdown on quacks, a writ petition was filed by Saifullah Muhib Advocate. He told the court that the HCC has never regulated the rates of laboratories of the public and private sector which showed its officials were not performing their duties as a result poor patients struggle to afford diagnostic testing charges.

In July, the Peshawar High Court had directed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Care Commission to fix the rates of diagnostic tests, including those of Covid-19 and dengue fever, in consultation with private laboratories. However, the HCC official today informed that they form board for this purpose.   

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