The Sindh health department is going to hand over the administrative control of over 50 hospitals to non-governmental organisations in a ceremony this week.
"It is an experiment," said provincial health secretary Saeed Ahmed Mangnejo. The year-long project is a joint venture through a public-private partnership. The government hopes that the performance report at the end of the year will help determine whether or not this experiment can be considered for the long term.
"The new financial year's budget is being released to these organisations," said provincial health secretary Saeed Ahmed Mangnejo. The agreement between the government and these NGOs was finalised at the end of the previous financial year, so it was impossible to release funds then, he explained. The health department had signed an agreement in March and had assured that the facilities will be handed over within a month.
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The NGOs that are helping the health department undertake this experiment are Indus Hospital, Health And Nutrition Development Society (Hands), Aman Foundation, Integrated Health Services and Merlin, an international health charity. The district headquarter hospitals in Badin, Khairpur and Thatta, all rural health centres in Larkana division, taluka headquarter hospitals in Thatta and Badin and 40 health facilities in Bin Qasim and Gadap towns will now be managed by these NGOs.
Sindh Health Minister Jam Mahtab Hussain Dahar explained that the paramedics at these facilities were the reason why the handover was delayed. "Hurdles were being created by those who are dishonest in their duties," he said. "I hope these organisations deliver the best health facilities."
Dahar admitted that the government has failed to deliver good quality health facilities to the people. "We tried our best to give the common man health facilities but failed." After the agreement was signed with these organisations, Dahar said the department asked them to start practical work. These partner organisations have already done a great job in the health sector, he pointed out.
The organisations tasked with improving public healthcare in the province are already rolling up their sleeves and kicking off the work. "It has not been officially notified as yet," said Dr Abdul Bari Khan, the chief executive officer of the Indus Hospital. "We have done our job and are ready to take charge of the hospitals," he added.
After visiting Badin on Sunday where he joined the All Parties Conference in support of Indus Hospital, he said that the people of Badin have shown their complete support. "The civil society and political parties also support us."
The intention of the government is evidently to improve the partially functioning and non-functional health facilities," said Hands chief executive Dr Shaikh Tanveer Ahmed. "We hope this partnership will go further to improve the health of people."
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Hands has been handed over the charge of all 40 public hospitals in Bin Qasim and Gadap towns, and the district headquarters hospital in Khairpur Mirs. The district headquarters hospital in Tando Muhammad Khan and taluka headquarter hospital in Hala will also be handed over to Hands, according to official sources.
"We have started our work," said the general manager of Hands, Nadeem Wagan. "The baseline survey is complete."
Dr Khan also confirmed that the assessment has been carried out. "More delays can create problems," he added.
According to an official who requested anonymity, the health department has assured these organisations of the release of funds by the end of this week.
The department has also convened a meeting today (Tuesday) with partner organisations to finalise the plan according to their agreement.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2015.