KARACHI: The Sindh government may have declared a health emergency in the province but the finance department seems to have missed the message. It has yet to allocate funds for a number of ongoing and new health schemes included in the 2017-18 Annual Development Programme (ADP).
The list of ongoing schemes includes the establishment of a 25 bed trauma centre at the Sindh Government Lyari General Hospital in Karachi. The project has not been allocated a single penny despite the first quarter of the fiscal year ending on September 30. As per the provincial ADP, the scheme was allocated Rs152.76 million in the current fiscal year.
The provision of equipment for the surgical complex at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) at a cost of Rs325.5 million, the establishment of a 50-bed medical and surgical ICU and the expansion of the casualty and out-patient departments at Liaquat University Hospital in Hyderabad at a cost of Rs149 million have also stalled due to lack of funds.
The budget allocated Rs21 million for the establishment of a cardiac surgery complex at Chandka Medical College Hospital in Larkana but no funds have been released yet. The complex was to have facilities to perform coronary angiographies, cardiac bypass surgeries and chest surgeries as well as a cardiac catheterised laboratory.
The same is the case in the establishment of a 50 bed medical and surgical ICU and expansion of the casualty and out-patient departments at Chandka hospital and the establishment of the Benazir Institute of Urology and Transplantation in Shaheed Benazirabad at a cost of Rs50 million and Rs359 million respectively.
The total allocation for the 21 ongoing teaching hospital schemes is Rs2.23 billion but the amount released by the finance department is only Rs444.5 million with an expenditure of a mere Rs21.86 million in the fiscal year’s first five months.
The finance department has also failed to release Rs48.34 million for the upgrade of the drug testing laboratory in Karachi. Not a single penny of the allocated Rs597.5 million for the eight new teaching hospitals has been released.
The other 155 health schemes have been allocated Rs1.26 million out of the total Rs6.63 million with an expenditure of just Rs202.04 million in the first five months.
The expansion and improvement of Abbasi Shaheed Hospital to the level of a tertiary care hospital with a nursing school and replacement of seven elevators is also awaiting the release of the allocated Rs100 million funds. The establishment of an anti-snake venom and anti-rabies serology laboratory with an allocation of Rs89.85million and provision of parenteral iron isomaltoside to treat iron deficiency in Tharparkar with an allocation of Rs50 million also awaits the release of funds.
The establishment of a campus of Jinnah Sindh Medical University in Karachi, a medical college in Hyderabad and medical college in Mirpurkhas have also not received a single penny from the government.
Among the new medical education schemes is the construction of the Makhdoom Muhammad Zaman Talibul Moula Medical College and Teaching Hospital in Hala at an estimated cost of Rs400 million, for which Rs47.50 million has been allocated but nothing released so far.
The establishment of the Nutrition Support Programme in nine districts of the province – Qamber-Shahdadkot, Larkana, Kashmore, Jacobabad, Tharparkar, Badin, Umerkot, Sanghar and Tando Mohammad Khan – with an allocation of Rs196.88 million has yet to receive any funds.
Funds for strengthening the provincial tuberculosis control programme and prevention and control of blindness in Sindh have also not been released.
The chief minister’s initiative for the hepatitis prevention and control programme was allocated Rs900 million but no funds were given to the programme. The Maternal Neonatal Child Health Programme was allocated Rs54.2 million and strengthening of malaria control programme Rs203 million but neither programme has been granted funds this fiscal year.
The CM House spokesperson told The Express Tribune that Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, as finance minister, has issued clear directives to all departments as well as the finance ministry to release funds on time. “However, if in case the funds have not been released then there must be a technical reason behind it,” he added.
Pakistan Medical Association General Secretary Dr Qaiser Sajjad criticised the government for not utilising its budget efficiently to improve the health and education sectors. “We demanded a raise in our budgets but the existing budget gets lapsed at the end of fiscal year,” he complained.
According to him, the timely release of funds can help complete schemes within the stipulated time and improve the health indicators in the country.