PESHAWAR: A lawyer on Wednesday filed a contempt petition with the Peshawar High Court seeking action against the chief executive of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Care Commission and high-ups of the health department for not complying with the court’s orders to regulate the rates of laboratories and clinics.

Petitioner Saifullah Muhib Kakakhel said following the outbreak of Covid-19, the high court judgment delivered on Nov 13, 2019, had assumed importance as the HCC and health department hadn’t complied with it regarding the fixation of rates for health facilities and bringing of uniformity in those rates.

He had earlier filed a petition seeking the court’s orders for the HCC to regulate the rates of public as well as private sector health facilities and also make it mandatory for private laboratories, clinics and hospitals to display service charges at visible place on their premises.

A high court bench headed by Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth had accepted that petition in Nov 2019 and ordered the HCC to fix and bring uniformity in the rates of all laboratories, clinics and hospitals within three months.

The respondents in the contempt petition are HCC chief executive officer Dr Maqood Ali, health secretary Dr Farooq Jamil and director general (health services) Dr Arshad Khan.

The petitioner requested the court to punish the respondents for committing contempt of the court.

He pointed out that uniform rates for dengue, MP and complete blood count tests were fixed by the HCC by issuing a public notice over a petition popularly known as the dengue virus case.

The petitioner said that act was highly beneficial for the people, who couldn’t afford treatment, tests and medicines required.

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan was the founder of the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital, which had laboratories in almost all cities of the country.

The petitioner claimed that those laboratories had been providing services by charging a huge amount from citizens compared to other local laboratories.

He added that in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the Shaukat Khanum Hospital was provided with free kits to test Covid-19 but to his surprise and that of the people at large, that hospital’s labs charged people a huge amount for coronavirus test instead of offering that service at low rate.

The petitioner claimed that the respondents had not been implementing the order of the high court regarding fixation of rates of different hospitals and laboratories due to that hospital.

He said the court had ordered that HCC was not made merely to issue license but also to regulate rates and all other work related to regulation of public and private health sector for benefit of the people.

“No doubt, charges of doctors and laboratories depend on the expenses, staff, location and equipment used but for this reason, they cannot be left to charge the people unbridled fee,” the high court had ruled.

Published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2020