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August 3, 2017

Action started against more than 1,250 doctors on ex-Pakistan leave


August 3, 2017

The Sindh Health Department on Wednesday announced plans to block the official identification cards it had issued to around 1,250 doctors who went abroad on leaves but never reported back despite repeated reminders.

This was announced by Sindh Secretary Health Dr Fazlullah Pechuho while addressing a presser at a local hotel. “Around 1,300 doctors availed ex-Pakistan leaves and failed to report back to duty even after the stipulated time period of the sanctioned leave expired. We sent them notices, but hardly 29 of them reported back; all of the remaining doctors are untraceable,” he observed.

The health secretary maintained that in the next phase the department would request the Sindh Accountant General to block disbursement of salaries to the absentee doctors.

“Doctors who will not respond to the final show cause notice will be removed from services after the due process is followed,” Dr Pechuho added.

Out of hometown transfers 

Doctors, paramedics and nurses should be appointed for specific health facilities so that they not get themselves transferred from one place to the other, opined the health secretary while commenting on the issue of health officials moving to urban centres instead of serving in their hometowns or other rural places of the province.

He claimed that many doctors and health officials don’t get themselves promoted into next grades to avoid posting in rural areas, adding, that he was refusing to bow down to political pressure in this regard and trying to have doctors posted required in rural areas where there is a need.

Inefficient SBTA    

Speaking of other issues, Dr Pechuho conceded that the Sindh Blood Transfusion Authority (SBTA) is ‘ineffective’ owing to incompetence of its secretary, Dr Zahid Ansari.

The health secretary claimed that Dr Ansari got the position owing to former Sindh Governor’s backing but did not deliver as was expected of him.

“Due to SBTA’s incompetence and inefficiency and its secretary, the four blood banks established with German funding in Karachi and three other cities of Sindh were yet to be handed over to private partners of the Sindh government.” However, Dr Pechuho claimed that he had re-initiated the process of handing over the blood transfusion centres to private health organisations under the Public-Private Partnership model.  

Non-functional healthcare commission    

Furthermore, the senior health department officer observed that the department appointed Dr Minhaj A Kidwai as the chief executive officer of the Sindh Healthcare Commission, and also expressed the willingness to provide funds for its office to be set up. But the commission’s members, Dr Pechuho said, were not interested in making it functional.

The commission was formed after the Sindh Assembly passed the Sindh Healthcare Commission Act, 2013. Nine honorary members (commissioners) of the advisory body elected Dr Tipu Sultan as the commission’s chairperson.

A few meetings of the commission had already taken place but they were still seeking establishment of an office for the commission.

Funding bone marrow transplants

Following into the Punjab government’s footsteps, the Sindh health department also called upon the Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah to finance Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) procedures of 150 children annually, at the National Institute of Blood Diseases (NIBD) in Karachi, Dr Pechuho revealed.

The summary is expected to be signed by the CM soon, he claimed. “The government cannot, at this point, establish its own centres in the province, and has, hence, decided to finance the procedure for around 150 children annually from the private sector. Deserving children will be admitted to the NIBD for bone marrow transplants without asking for the chief minister’s approval, once funds for the project are allocated”, he said.

The Punjab government provided Rs2.2 million to the National Institute of Blood Diseases to conduct bone marrow transplants of children. In addition to this, the NIBD is also training doctors, paramedics and nursing staff of the Children’s Hospital, Lahore, to enable them to run the transplant centre — expected to start functioning in the coming weeks.

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