Doctors' bodies term healthcare tax unjust, regressive

10:00 AM, 24 Jun, 2024
Doctors' bodies term healthcare tax unjust, regressive

KARACHI: Major doctors' organizations, including the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) and the Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA), have vehemently condemned the proposed imposition of an “unjust and regressive” tax on healthcare institutes, terming it an infringement upon people’s fundamental rights to access healthcare.

PMA, PIMA, the Private Hospital and Clinics Association (PH&CA), and various other bodies jointly opposed the tax proposal, representing the frontline healthcare providers serving 70-80 percent of the country’s population.

Speaking at a press conference, PMA Secretary General Dr. Abdul Ghafoor Shoro, PIMA President (Karachi) Dr. Abdullah Mutaqi, PH&CA Coordinator Nusrat Faheem, Prof. Hasnat Sharif from the Cardiac Society; and Dr. Qazi Muhammad Wasiq expressed grave concerns over the proposed tax, saying it would compel healthcare institutions to either raise prices or cease operations entirely, thereby depriving the underprivileged of essential medical services and potentially precipitating a public health crisis.

The speakers said the private healthcare sector in Pakistan is already under significant financial strain, struggling to maintain quality care at affordable costs. They warned that the additional taxes would push many providers to the brink of bankruptcy.

"It is unfair to single out the private sector in this manner, particularly when it shoulders the responsibility of providing healthcare to the masses. We demand an immediate withdrawal of these taxes," a representative asserted.

Highlighting the charitable role played by private healthcare providers, the representatives said the tax move was tantamount to penalizing these institutions for their humanitarian efforts, demanding the authorities revoke the decision.

"The imposition of this tax threatens to undo the progress we have achieved. It will divert crucial resources from patient care towards meeting government levies, contrary to the needs of the Pakistani people who seek greater access to affordable healthcare," the joint statement said.

They said the healthcare community stands united in demanding the immediate withdrawal of the sales tax on private and charitable healthcare facilities, terming it a direct assault on the citizens’ fundamental right to health.

"The future of healthcare in Pakistan hinges on the decisions made today. We urge the authorities to prioritize the people's well-being and safeguard the institutions that are integral to saving lives daily," the joint statement concluded.