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January 15, 2020

KP govt planning drastic changes to Health Dept


January 15, 2020

PESHAWAR: Besides making drastic changes to the Health Department, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has decided to replace the provincial director general Health Services and director general Drug Control and Pharmacy Services, official sources told The News.

The new health minister, Shahram Khan Tarakai is reportedly planning to gather the “best available” professionals and form his own team to support him in his new assignment.

“It has been realized on all relevant forums that health delivery services in the peripheries have badly declined in the past one and half years. Besides mismanagement and massive irregularities on various forums, the public has lost confidence in the state-run health facilities in the province due to lack of adequate services,” a senior government official told The News. Pleading anonymity, he said the provincial government after lengthy deliberations had agreed on replacing DG Health Services and DG Drug Control and Pharmacy Services.

“Different names are being considered for the position of DG Health Services but two people are stated to be on top of the 10-member list of senior most doctors in the province. Both are known for their professional competence and integrity and one of them can be appointed as DG Health Services any time,” said the government official privy to the ongoing discussions.

Two senior most people in the seniority list had reportedly declined to accept the challenging task of DG Health Services owing to own commitments.

The present DG Health Dr Arshad Ahmad was appointed on October 23, 2018. He had replaced Dr Mohammad Ayub Rose. Both were in BPS-20 and members of the management cadre, belonging to the Mardan district.

The previous government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had appointed Dr Ayub Rose as DG Health Services on November 21, 2017. The then health minister Shahram Khan Tarakai had appointed him DG, but Dr Ayub Rose could not complete his tenure and when Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan became the health minister in the second PTI government, he replaced him with Dr Arshad Ahmad.

The then chief secretary had reportedly taken stand on Dr Ayub Rose and had once turned down a summary for his replacement.

But since he lacked strong political back-up, he could not continue as DG Health Services, though he was known as a competent and upright officer. He had initiated a number of inquiries and disciplinary actions against certain people allegedly involved in irregularities and misuse of power in the Health Department.

Dr Arshad Ahmad serviced on various important positions and when he was appointed DG Health Services, he was serving as director general Provincial Health Services Academy (PHSA), Peshawar. His appointment at that time had raised certain questions about the claim of the PTI leadership of giving importance to merit in key appointments as Dr Arshad Khan was allegedly on serial number 18 in the seniority list.

As per rules, the DG Health Services is required to be chosen from a panel of 10 senior most BPS-20 officers of the management cadre in the Health Department.

According to senior officials of the Health Department, health services trickled down in the peripheries, with patients had long been complaining of lack of doctors and medicines everywhere in the province. According to official data, 49 per cent of the basic health units and 60 per cent rural health centers in KP have doctors. In the previous PTI government, 95 per cent of BHUs had doctors, while the government target was 90 per cent, according to government officials.

Most of the doctors recruited by the previous government had quit either due to selection for postgraduate studies or other reasons. It created a big vacuum but the present government instead of recruiting doctors banned employment. “Everybody knows why doctors’ recruitment was banned and what the purpose was. There is no justification for banning recruitment of doctors as they are part of essential health work force,” opined a government official.

It was apparently due to the lack of inadequate services, including non-availability of doctors and support staff, medicines and equipment in the peripheries that bed occupancy had drastically came down in the past one year.

“As per official data, bed occupancy of 6-7 per cent of district headquarters hospitals (DHQs) remained 2 per cent. In Peshawar, bed occupancy of 110-bed Category C Hospital Nahaqi and 40-bed Category D Hospital Gara Tajik remained zero per cent in the past few months due to lack of satisfactory services,” said the government official.

The second important position is of DG Drug Control and Pharmacy Services. This department was recently established as an attached department of the Health Department.

Its prime responsibility was to rationalise prescriptions and discourage spurious and unregistered medicines. Previously, this section of the drug control was under the domain of DG Health Services. According to officials, the new department, established under the Drug Act 1976, could not deliver accordingly for multiple reasons.