Fate of KPHCC hangs in the balance

September 16, 2019

PESHAWAR: The fate of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Healthcare Commission seems in doldrums as Health Minister Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan has said he would dissolve the Board of Governors for...

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PESHAWAR: The fate of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Healthcare Commission (KPHCC) seems in doldrums as Health Minister Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan has said he would dissolve the Board of Governors (BoG) for “unsatisfactory” performance.

Members of the BoG appealed to Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and Dr Nausherwan Burki, the architect of so-called health reforms, to take notice of the situation and enable them to serve independently for the welfare of the people.

In his recent press conference about the dengue outbreak in Peshawar, Dr Hisham first termed the Healthcare Commission as the backbone of the health department and then alleged that its management has become a mafia. He said the board was helpless before the management of the commission.

“I dissolved the previous board when I took over. Unfortunately, there is mafia sitting in KPHCC management. And it (mafia) is strong enough that the board which comprises some competent people but it cannot compete it (mafia).

So very soon I am going to change the board again and bring in the new administration to the Healthcare Commission,” the minister explained in a briefing.

He added that HCC is the backbone of the health department and that’s its job of the commission to check quality control and rates (of investigations).

“Until and unless we change the administration of the commission and let them prepare their ToRs and checklists and bring competent people, the prices will continue to rise and people will make money,” Dr Hisham Khan told the media people.

His comments had hurt the KPHCC staff as well as members of the board. In their individual capacity, two board members spoke to The News on condition of anonymity and challenged allegations of the health minister.

“First, the minister didn’t dissolve the previous board; it had completed its tenure. Second, the commission cannot fix prices of laboratories. The government will need to amend the KPHCC Act if it wanted the commission to fix rates,” said one member of the board.

“There is no doubt the minister had personally chosen us but never let us work independently,” he added. The previous PTI government had introduced KPHCC under the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Healthcare Commission Act 2015. Its prime responsibility was to regulate healthcare establishments in the public and private sectors of the province.

“We were supposed to work independently and make decisions purely on merit. The issue started when we advertised some positions in the commission and the minister apparently wanted to induct his nominees on those positions,” a member of the board claimed.

He said the health minister had never sought briefing of the board regarding “real” and “genuine” issues and “started keeping a distance when he realised that he would not serve his interests in presence of the present board.”

He said it was the exclusive domain of the board to hire staff and utilise their services. “We started hiring the staff purely on merit but the minister stopped us,” he said.

According to the board members, the minister ‘illegally’ stopped them from hiring staff, even though they had advertised positions and received thousands of applications.

“Actually the previous board had done nothing in its tenure. As per Act of the commission, there need to be four-five directorates and staff for different important departments,” said the board member.

He said KPHCC is an autonomous body and only the cabinet can impose a ban on its recruitment. He alleged that the health minister had made this important body dysfunctional for the past one year. Anther board had similar reservations, saying a number of people of the previous Health Regulatory Authority (HRA) were inducted and illegally promoted in HCC by an old member.

“Would you believe, one member has been in the board since HRA and so far made Rs1.4 million from the commission in the form of TA /DA as he has been a member of each and every committee? He claims two extra nights when comes for attending the board meetings in Peshawar just to make money. But he has always been opposing the hiring of the staff, arguing that it would unnecessarily increase expenses of the commission,” said the board member.

He said the commission was going to face a crisis as the government stopped its funding and the minister prevented them from hiring staff.

“The chief executive is going to complete his tenure. Similarly, the contract of director operations and director monitoring and evaluation are going to expire soon. And the commission will soon be delivered to the inspectors came to us from KPHRA,” the board member told The News.

He said it was third time positions were advertised in KPHCC but the hiring is stopped. When reached, Health Minister Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan denied these charges against him and said that he never preferred recruiting his people.

“In this past year, how many people have I recruited elsewhere? Let’s be realistic. If they are not performing up to the mark, I will not spare any one of them because I am held responsible by all quarters, the most important of which is the public,” he explained.

“If I felt that the criteria and pre-requisites for the new employment needs to be changed and the ToRs need to be redefined so we employee professionals and qualified people who have the know-how of the field of medicine and they the capacity and knowledge to judge what is wrong in terms quality of healthcare. Does it mean that I want to recruit my people?” he asked.

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