KARACHI: Flawed policies of the Sindh government are continuing to inflict heavy losses on the national exchequer. In this regard, the Government Children Hospital located near Nagan Chowrangi has been given to a Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa-based non-governmental organisation (NGO). Moreover, the NGO has been given Rs440 million to run it.
The hospital was earlier run by the health department at a cost of Rs100 million.
Now, the provincial health department has raised questions over the hospital being given to the NGO under the public-private partnership. Moreover, the Sindh government, raising serious reservations over the issue, ordered the health department to submit a report in this regard.
The report compiled by the health department points out several shortcomings including the provision of substandard medicine to children, irrelevant people living in the hospital and lack of cleanliness in the hospital.
The report says there were six persons living in the hospital who worked in other departments. The NGO has appointed staff with high salaries on unnecessary positions.
The report questioned the justification of expenditure of Rs200,000 per month under the head of quality control. In a blatant case of favouritism, more than 25 people had been appointed on administrative positions, drawing hefty salaries.
The hospital has been under the health department since its inauguration in 2003 by the then Governor of Sindh Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan.
Then it had 50 beds but later Japanese NGO Jica provided modern instruments of more than Rs500 million and built an additional block at a cost of Rs1.75 billion.
Under an expansion plan, 150 beds were to be added to the hospital, making it a 200-bed children hospital.
However, an important leader of the PPP used his influence to hand the hospital over to the K-P NGO. Ironically, the hospital budget was increased from Rs100 million to Rs440 million on the pretext that the hospital would be run under the public-private scheme.
The agreement was signed by former Public-Private Partnership director Ahsen Wazir. However, he was fired from his position by the health department secretary.
The NGO has failed to expand the hospital to 200 beds though 10 months have passed. The health department and Jica have expressed reservations over the delay. The department has asked the NGO to submit a report.
It is pertinent to mention here that the NGO had appointed one of its favourite persons as CEO on a salary package of Rs450,000 per month, Director Operations (Rs250,000), Quality Control officer (Rs200,000), and Administrator (Rs150,000). Likewise, it appointed finance manager, procurement manager, supervisor (night and day), supervisor, HR manager and IT staff at high salaries without informing the health department.
The majority of those people are not from Sindh. This has created concerns in the citizens. They are taking their salaries for the past 10 months. The OPD turnout in five months has dropped from 130,268 during five months under the health department to 13,000 patients since the NGO took over the hospital.
The health department had also objected to the fact that the ambulance service of the hospital was limited to one Bolan and two Toyota Hilux. The NGO removed the name of the hospital from the Bolan van and using the vehicle for personal use. In addition, the ambulance and the radiology X-ray services are not available for 24 hours.