ISLAMABAD: The country’s top court Tuesday expressed displeasure at the lack of coordination among health departments, embezzlements and delay in appointment of administrators in capital hospitals.
A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court directed the top lawyer of the government to frame recruitment rules and ensure the appointment of administrators in eight public hospitals within a week.
The judges expressed annoyance after it was revealed that the hospitals are administered by 13 ministries and departments which have almost no coordination with each other.
The bench, headed by Justice Amir Hani Muslim, was hearing a suo motu case of alleged theft of medicines at Polyclinic, one of the largest public sector hospitals in the capital and embezzlement in the acquisition of oxygen and nitrogen gas.
The bench ordered Attorney General of Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf Ali to personally supervise the framing of recruitment rules, the appointment of administrators and appear in the court in person on next hearing.
The bench warned that if the recruitment rules are not finalised during the given timeframe, contempt proceedings against the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) and establishment secretaries would be initiated.
During the hearing, Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto University Vice-Chancellor Prof Javed Akram informed the bench that after the dissolution of the health ministry, the health sector in the capital was fractured, adding that the 13 ministries which are administrating various hospitals have no coordination.
CADD Joint Secretary Ayesha Farooq told the bench that the prime minister has already given directives to the health reforms in the federal capital.
She said administrators had not been appointed due to the absence of recruitment rules.
Justice Qazi Faez Isa asked if it takes 70 years to frame recruitment rules. “The Ministry of Interior has not been able to handle the licencing system. How would it manage healthcare,” he remarked.
Justice Muslim also remarked that human lives are being endangered by the government’s delay in enacting recruitment rules.
Earlier, the court was informed through an application filed by Dr Waqar Malik that there are no full-time administrators in the public hospitals. The bench asked him to attend the next hearing for the court’s assistance. The hearing was adjourned until September 27.
Nine booked in Polyclinic scam
Meanwhile, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) told the court that it has booked seven Polyclinic officials and two contractors in the Rs35 million embezzlement in the procurement of medical gases for the hospital.
The FIA submitted a preliminary report on the scam in the supply of oxygen and nitrogen gas, and the theft of medicines from the hospital.
The report says that during the inquiry, certified copies of the bidding documents and allied items from 2013 to 2016, along with details of the purchase of gases were compared with records from PIMS, while the statements of three hospital officials and contractors were also recorded.
“A wrongful loss of approximately Rs31.07 million has been caused to the public exchequer in the purchase of medical gases at exorbitant rates from 2013 to 2016,” the report says.
Likewise, a loss of about Rs4.05 million has been caused to the public exchequer in the purchase of allied items, the report added.
The FIA told the court that a case has been registered against nine persons for criminal breach of trust and conspiracy.
Suspects are purchase committee chairman Dr Zulkafil Sabir, Deputy Executive Director Dr Iftikhar Naru, Deputy Executive Director Dr Azmat Hamayun Khan, Executive Director Dr Zahid Hussain, Dr Farukh Iqbal, Dr Fayyaz Ahmed Sheikh, and contractors Malik Rehmat and Mehmood Ahmad.
The report says that all of the suspects except Dr Zahid Hussain have been arrested. Seven of them are on physical remand, while Dr Sabir was sent on judicial remand on September 2.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 7th, 2016.