Dr Faisal Sultan Pakistan health
Dr Faisal Sultan has been appointed Pakistan prime minister special aide on health. Image Credit: Supplied

Islamabad: Prime Minister Imran Khan has appointed Dr Faisal Sultan as his special assistant on national health services, regulations and coordination following the resignation of Dr Zafar Mirza.

Dr Sultan will hold the status of a federal minister, according to the official statement.

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He has been serving as the Prime Minister’s focal person on COVID-19 and is also the CEO of Shaukat Khanum Memorial and Cancer Hospital. Dr Faisal Sultan said that he was “honoured by the confidence reposed by PM Imran Khan” and “humbled by the responsibility entrusted”. He called for support “to deliver the much-needed healthcare reforms for Pakistan.”

Dr Sultan has replaced Dr Zafar Mirza who resigned on July 29, saying that he decided to leave after the “negative discussion about the role of SAPMs and criticism of the government”. The former WHO director, who served as the prime minister’s special assistant on health from April 2019 till July 2020, said: “It was a privilege to serve Pakistan” and that he is “satisfied” to leave “at a time when COVID-19 has declined in Pakistan as a result of a grand national effort.”

Dr Faisal Sultan SAPM is the chief executive officer of the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre (SKMCH&RC) - the charity hospital founded by Prime Minister Imran Khan in 1994 in the memory of his mother.
He is a consultant physician on medicine and infectious diseases.
Dr Sultan completed his graduation from the King Edward Medical College University (Lahore) in 1987.
He also holds postgraduate degrees of Diplomate American Board of Internal Medicine (1992) and Diplomate American Board of Infectious Disease (1994).

On Monday, the National Command Operation Center (NCOC) – the organisation leading the fight against COVID-19 – acknowledged the contributions of Dr Mirza to the national efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus pandemic since March.

Dr Zafar Mirza wished Dr Sultan every success, describing him as “a capable professional with a good worldview” and “a good friend” on Twitter. Welcoming the new appointment, Dr Mirza said: “I am very pleased about the appointment of Dr Faisal Sultan as SAPM health. As a federal minister he will be able to make decisions which [are] important.”