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October 1, 2016

Decision to shut PPHI draws flak from employees


October 1, 2016

PESHAWAR: The unexpected closure of the People’s Primary Healthcare Initiative (PPHI) by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government in the province has aroused strong criticism from its employees who have challenged it in the Peshawar High Court.

The employees claimed PPHI’s performance was much better than the provincial Health Department as it provided quality health services and standard investigative facilities to the poor people.

According to PPHI workers, the organisation had ensured presence of qualified doctors and other support staff in healthcare centres in the remote areas of the province and improved patient care.

“It was an old but well-organised conspiracy of the District Health Officers against PPHI and its operations. PPHI had ensured availability of doctors and medicines in the Basic Health Units and Rural Health Centres in remote parts of the province.

The Health Department and particularly DHOs wanted to get rid of PPHI as it had stopped their means of corruption,” an official of PPHI said.He said the government had forced the Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP) to cancel its agreement with PPHI because it had focused on services instead of bribing top officials.

The official said it was an open secret that doctors of Health Department supposed to work in remote areas bribed DHOs and other Health Department officials and in return they were exempted from duty.

Also, the doctors and other health workers associated with PPHI said they didn’t expect the government would overrule its own rules as Chief Minister Pervez Khattak had issued an executive order on July 17, 2015 to extend PPHI operations till 2018.

The provincial government on May 11, 2016 issued a notification announcing that PPHI would be closed in June 2016.The PPHI employees on Friday went to the Peshawar High Court and got a stay order against closure of the organisation. The PHC on June 22, 2016 suspended the notification regarding closure of PPHI and the government then extended its operations till 2018.

However, on September 22, 2016 the government again issued a notification that it cannot pay management cost of PPHI. It apparently wanted to convey a clear message that it was no more interested in working with the PPHI.

The employees again approached the PHC on September 28, 2016 to challenge the notification issued to all the concerned authorities, including the District Health Officers (DHOs), that PPHI’s operations would cease on September 30, 2016.The PHC suspended the notification and set October 22, 2016 for next hearing into the case.

Also, the court clubbed the order with other identical petitions filed by the medical officers (MOs) and class-IV employees of the Health Department. “The government’s move to close PPHI operations is against the law as the PHC had restored our operations,” a senior PPHI official told The News.

A group of PPHI workers told The News that besides providing quality services to patients in health centres in the underdeveloped rural areas, the PPHI generated Rs8.03 million as revenue for the government.

The PPHI workers challenged the government’s stance that it was not able to pay management cost of the organisation.“PPHI earned the government Rs8.03 million and its management cost is Rs1.07 million. Our workers provided the best possible services within limited resources. If the government and Sarhad Rural Support Programme cannot pay our management cost why the government does not return Rs8.03 million to PPHI so that we could meet our management cost,” a senior PPHI worker argued.

He claimed all the employees would peacefully go home if the government provided them a single proof of mismanagement or service deficiency in any part of the province.According to the employees, the Independent Monitoring Unit (IMU) in the Health Department in its report declared PPHI’s performance 68 percent while performance of the Health Department was 32 percent.

They raised another critical point, saying some of the District Support Managers of PPHI had ordered purchase of medicines. “I would give you the example of Mardan district where the district support managers after proper consultation and proposals of the committee headed by the deputy commissioner ordered medicines worth of Rs13.2 million. What would happen to this purchase when the government all of a sudden decided to close the programme,” the official asked.


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