PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Department on Thursday initiated an inquiry against the former district health officer (DHO) Mardan Dr Kachkol Khan and his team for allegedly selling the Covid-19 vaccine and injecting distilled water into the elderly people who came for vaccination.
People had lodged complaints on the Prime Minister’s Citizen Portal and also informed Dr Faisal Sultan, advisor to the prime minister on health, about the mismanagement in use of the coronavirus vaccine and its alleged sale to irrelevant people in Mardan.
Dr Faisal Sultan had directed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government for conducting an inquiry into the complaints and also recommended disciplinary action against the DHO.
Health Minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra was quick to tweet to announce that he had removed DHO Mardan Dr Kachkol Khan from his position.
The government then gave the charge to another officer for the time being.
Health Minister Taimur Jhagra told The News that they had received complaints about sale of the Covid-19 vaccine to people in Mardan and administering it to relatives and personal friends of those holding key positions in the DHO office.
He said an inquiry has been initiated against ex-DHO Mardan Dr Kachkol Khan, adding, the committee would investigate the scandal and anyone found guilty would not be spared. “Look we immediately took action and removed DHO Mardan, Dr Kachkol, when we received reports of misconduct. Now we have constituted an inquiry committee to further probe into reports of the sale of vaccines to irrelevant people, which, in fact, were meant for the elderly,” the health minister said.
According to officials of the Health Department, the health minister and other relevant authorities had received reports about vaccine sale in Mardan and Tehsil Headquarters Hospital, Takht Bhai.
“This is a criminal act and needed to be investigated on merit as we heard that distilled water instead of vaccine was being injected to the elderly in Mardan. It’s a huge and essentially hot issue and those involved need to be exposed and their criminal face showed to the people so that no one can dare to do it in future,” an official associated with the health sector told The News.
Pleading anonymity, he said they expect the government to update them about the outcome of the inquiry committee as it is not a minor issue.
Some government officials were concerned about the Mardan scandal if publicly investigated, saying people were already reluctant to get themselves vaccinated as they had certain doubts and misconceptions about the vaccine. They felt now if they learnt that the vaccine was sold to wealthy people or given to close relatives and friends and people were injected with distilled water only, it would cause serious damage to the vaccination programme.
However, Health Minister Taimur Jhagra and his team is adamant to investigate the Mardan vaccine scandal and share details with the media and people as they don’t want to hide information from the people so their trust in the vaccination can develop. “People’s trust on vaccination will be ensured and the culprits will get punishment through true and fair investigation,” a senior consultant in Mardan told The News.
He advised the government to investigate the previous record of ex-DHO Dr Kachkol Khan when he was Medical Superintendent at Tehsil Headquarters Hospital, Takht Bhai and the group of doctors he was associated with.
Meanwhile, the doctors and healthcare providers in Mardan also demanded the government to investigate as to how many PPEs, face masks, sensitisers, etc, were issued to different health outletrs during Dr Kachkol Khan’s tenure in the Covid-19 pandemic from the DHO office.
“We are tired of making demands for provision of PPEs, face masks, gowns etc for the past one year but the DHO office never took them seriously,” a doctor in Category D Hospital at Katlang complained.
When reached for his comments, Dr Kachkol Khan, ex-DHO, denied all the charges and said there was no truth in these reports.
He said not a single vaccine had been misused, sold or given to any irrelevant person in his domain. “I held a detailed meeting of all the hospital heads of Mardan district when the government provided us these vaccines. I distributed all the vaccines to them and there was no way someone could have misused or sold it to an irrelevant person,” he explained.
Dr Kachkol Khan said the entire issue was created by a doctor who had taken his parents in the afternoon to the Tehsil Headquarters Hospital, Takht Bhai when the staff had left and he insisted that his parents should be administered the Covid-19 vaccine.
“There was a staff member known for his rude attitude and this doctor unfortunately exchanged harsh words with him when he told them that time is over and he would not provide them a vaccine without permission of the hospital head. The doctor then lodged a complaint on the Prime Minister’s Citizen Portal and also sent it to Dr Faisal Sultan,” Dr Kachkol Khan maintained.