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October 20, 2019

KPHCC’s crisis deepens: Disinterest, interference prompt BoGs members to tender resignations


October 20, 2019

PESHAWAR: Though the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Care Commission (KPHCC) was already in crisis due to a host of reasons, the fate of this important regulatory institution is in doldrums as chairman and member of its Board of Governors (BoGs) resigned, accusing the Health Department of interfering in their affairs to prevent the board members from making decisions on merit.

“It is regretted to communicate that I am resigning as a chairman and member of the board of commissioners of KPHCC due to extreme highhandedness, immaturity and incompetence of the people at the helm of affairs in the department of health,” chairman of the board, Dr Mohammad Rahman, mentioned in his resignation letter, obtained by this correspondent.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Care Commission (KPHCC) is a statutory body constituted under Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Care Commission Act 2015, part of much-trumpeted health reforms of the previous Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government.

It aims to regulate the public and private health care establishments and improve the quality, safety and efficiency of healthcare service delivery for all public and private health care facilities in KP.

The board was formed in February this year. At that time, Health Minister Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan was accused of having inducted his relatives and close family friends on the board.

Interestingly, the minister had admitted while talking to The News that he had inducted his people in the board and argued that he had chosen “very qualified and professional people” to independently work and strengthen the institution.

However, after some time he developed differences with some of the board members, including its chairman after the minister allegedly attempted to induct his nominees on key positions in KPHCC, which the board members politely opposed.

The BoG members told The News that they had tried to make it clear to the minister that it would damage their reputation and that of the minister if they inducted all his nominees on key positions in KPHCC without merit.

“We had advised him to ask his people to apply for the positions. The board members had offered to accommodate his nominees on low positions that usually don’t require merit,” said one BoG member.

Pleading anonymity, he alleged that the minister first stopped the BoG members from advertising important positions and then created rifts among the board members so that they couldn’t make decisions.

“This prompted the board members who decided to quit when the minister through the Health Department created hurdles for them to work. First one board member resigned and now the chairman quit his job as a mark of protest,” said the BoG member.

In his resignation letter, the chairman said the board started to fill all the significant technical positions necessary to run

the affairs of the institution.

“The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Care Commission was ordered by the Health Department to stop recruitment as they had placed a ban on it which according to a notification of Finance Department was meant to implement austerity measures.

The Health Department knew that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Care Commission does not have minimum required technical staff in place to run the institution.

Though we conveyed the critical situation about the unavailability of the staffing but the Health Department was adamant to interfere in our affairs. Though the act does not give them any powers to do that,” the chairman explained.

“Resultantly, KPHCC is in crisis as the persons on the only filled positions of chief executive officer, director operations and business support and additional director monitoring and evaluation are finishing their contracts by end of October and November this year.”

The chairman said all the remaining positions including three directors, and 11 managers were vacant since the establishment of the KPHCC.

“On the expiry of contract of only filled positions of CEO, director and additional director, there will be nobody responsible and competent enough left to run the KPHCC,” the outgoing chairman maintained.

He said the board has a representation from the Health Department and accused him and of creating problems for the remaining board members.

The board had called its meeting on October 16, but was rescheduled for October 18, when three members, Dr Sabooh Bacha, Engineer Adam Khan and deputy secretary health avoided attending the meeting.

The chairman and other members suspected that the three members who avoided attending the BoG meeting were close to the health minister.

“We don’t suspect but believe that the health minister approached them not to attend the board meeting so they couldn’t make important decisions due to lack of quorum. And he succeeded but caused an irreparable damage to the regulatory body and its future,” claimed the BoG member.

He said some people wanted KPHCC to become the previous Health Regulatory Authority. “And they would succeed as after expiry of the contracts of important staff, it would be left to the inspectors of HRA,” the board member said.

“Based on the unwarranted interference, not being able to hire the most essential staff of this important regulatory institution, and non-understanding of the quality of care regulations within the health department, it is not wise and appropriate to continue with this institution which though is very close to my heart,” the chairman has mentioned in his letter.

Previously, Wing Commander (r) Gohar Javed had resigned to protest the alleged interference of the government in the affairs of the commission.

“My credibility is more important to me. Everyone knows the reason.

The hiring has been withheld seemingly for an indefinite period and the chief minister has stopped taking interest in resolving issues of the commission. This is the reason for my resignation,” said the BoG member while quoting Gohar Javed as saying.

Health Minister Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan recently stated that he would dissolve the BoG for its “unsatisfactory” performance.

However, the BoG members have asked Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and Dr Nausherwan Burki, the architect of so-called health reforms in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, to take notice of the situation.

Dr Hisham had denied these reports and allegations of the board members.

“Unfortunately, the commission is understaffed and lacks resources.

The staff that we have is the leftovers from the previous Health Regulatory Authority.

Most of them are untrained and disinterested in running the commission.

They want the commission to work on the pattern of HRA,” said the BoG member.

The health minister in his recent press conference termed the Healthcare Commission as the backbone of the Health Department but in the same breath accused its management of being 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 cannot compete with it (mafia).

I am going to change the board again and bring in the new administration to the Healthcare Commission,” the minister had stated in the press conference.

Dr Hisham said that it was the job of the commission to check quality control and rates of laboratory tests.