SA passes Sindh Reproductive Healthcare Rights Bill

KARACHI    –    The Sindh Assembly on Wednesday unanimously passed ‘The Sindh Reproductive Healthcare Rights Bill 2019’ to promote the reproductive healthcare rights of women and men as well to redress the complications related to pregnancy and childbirth.

The statement of objects and reasons of the bill read that complications related to pregnancy and childbirth were among the leading causes of mortality and morbidity for women of reproductive age.

“In Pakistan, 80 women die every day of pregnancy related complications. This is compounded by the fact that millions of other women do not die but suffer from complications such as fistula, sexually transmitted disease and infertility. This legislation will promote the reproductive healthcare rights and reduce maternal death,” it added.

After the enactment of the law, family planning or reproductive health services would be broadened to various areas and underserved persons would also be approached by strengthening the basic health units, rural health centers, MCH centers, family welfare centers for the provision of family planning, maternal and neonatal healthcare as well as other services. However, it was mentioned in the bill that no person shall be subjected to forced abortion or birth control, sexual intercourse, pregnancy and sterilization. “Provision of reproductive healthcare services to persons would be done in privacy and personal information would be kept confidential,” the bill read.

Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuhu moved the bill clause-by-clause and it was passed into law unanimously.

Separately, the Assembly also passed ‘The Sindh Institute of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences (Amendment) Bill, 2019’ for establishment of second ophthalmology institute of the province. ‘The Sindh Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Bill, 2019’ was also introduced in the house which was later sent to the concerned standing committee for further deliberation on the bill.

Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuhu revealed that Dr Ruth KM Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi was out space as they were unable to establish more Intensive Care Units (ICUs) due to want of space. She was responding to a call attention notice moved by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MPA Sanjay Gangwani who maintained that 30 of total 104 ventilators were out of order for several years at the Civil Hospital. Pechuhu confirmed that 30 ventilators of the hospital were not functioning, adding that 15 of them were repairable whereas other would be discarded as they have completed their lives. She said that the tendering process for more ventilators would begin soon. “Not only the ventilators but we also want to expand ICUs owing to the need of the city but we are just unable to do so as an ICU requires enough space to be built,” she added. To another call attention notice moved by Nand Kumar of the Grand Democratic Alliance regarding death of a man of Congo virus in Tharparkar, the health minister said that they have put concerned officials on high alert and the directives were also issued to the Livestock department.

Earlier speaking on a point of order, Opposition Leader Firdaus Shamim Naqvi said that the Sindh government was violating rules of procedures of the Assembly by not laying the report of the Auditor General of Pakistan and Quarterly Budget Execution Report. “What do you (Sindh government) want to conceal by not laying the reports in the house,” he asked. Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Mukesh Kumar Chawla assured that the reports would be laid in the house sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker Rehana Leghari ruled an adjournment motion by the PTI’s Khurram Sher Zaman regarding ‘3000 cases of Gastroenteritis and Diarrhoea in Karachi’.

Later, the house was adjourned till Thursday (today) at 2pm.