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November 2, 2018

Govt decides to take Children Hospital in North Nazimabad back from NGO


November 2, 2018

The Sindh health department has decided in principle to take Sindh Government Children Hospital, North Nazimabad back from an Islamabad-based NGO, Poverty Eradication Initiative (PEI), due to its failure to run the health facility effectively.

The government plans to hand the children hospital over to any public or private hospital. The hospital, which is situated near Nagan Chowrangi, was handed over to the PEI under the public-private partnership (PPP) mode in 2016 after Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) renovated it at a cost of Rs1.7 billion and added a complete new block with 100 beds in the existing facility.

However, for the last several days, health services at the hospital are suspended as its employees, including doctors and paramedical staff, are on strike due to the non-payment of their salaries since the health department stopped releasing funds to the NGO over the charges of misappropriation of funds and failure to provide high quality services.

“Health department has decided in principle to get the Children Hospital at Nagan Chowrangi rid of NGO after it miserably failed to run the hospital effectively as children were still being referred to National Institute of Child Health (NICH) and some leading private hospitals in life-threatening conditions,” an official of the Sindh government informed The News on Thursday.

According to health authorities, the PEI was being given Rs440 million annually to run the hospital. Under the agreement, the NGO was supposed to enhance the number of beds at the hospital from 100 to 200 in a year but instead, the facility deteriorated and people were not provided satisfactory services, the authorities said.

The health department is currently reviewing its policies as it has stopped funding to several private hospitals and institutions, which were being paid hundreds of millions of rupees to provide health facilities under public private partnership.

Sindh Health Minister Dr. Azra Pechuho has also stopped releasing funds amounting to Rs200 million to the National Institute of Blood Diseases (NIBD), which were used to perform bone marrow transplants of needy children at a private health facility.

Funding to the Sindh Government Children Hospital was likewise stopped, which resulted in the closure of the health facility as the NGO running the hospital stopped paying salaries of the staff due to non-release of funds. Provision of health facilities, OPD services, emergency healthcare, and radiological and surgical procedures have stopped at the hospital.

Health department officials said they had also found evidence of irregularities in the financial management of the hospital. Meanwhile, people visiting the health facility were also not satisfied with its services as in many cases, parents were asked to take their children to the NICH or private hospitals for advanced surgeries, procedures and radiological interventions.

“Even the officials of JICA and Consulate General of Japan in Karachi were not satisfied with the performance of the PEI in running the hospital’s affairs, for which they had spent billions of Japanese Yen,” an official said, adding that Japanese officials had raised concern over the hospital’s performance with the provincial high ups on several occasions.

Future plans

Regarding the future of the children hospital, health department officials said there was a possibility of handing it over to the NICH or a private charity hospital, which was already running several health facilities in the country under public private partnership.

The health officials said if the owners of the private health network agreed to run the children hospital, proposals would be invited from private parties after cancelling the agreement with the PEI and preference would be given to the private health network as it was already running a child health unit.

If no suitable private party shows interest in taking over the health facility, it could be turned into a satellite centre of the NICH on the pattern of the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD), which has been running several such centres in other cities of the province.

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