PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Healthcare Commission (KPHCC), a flagship project of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government in health sector, has become dead as almost all administrative and operational positions in this important body have been vacant for the past few years.
In September 2020, the government appointed a proper board of governors (BoG) to streamline affairs of the health regulatory body and put it on track, but the board members could not accomplish the mission assigned to them.
The previous PTI-led coalition government introduced reforms in the health sector and passed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Healthcare Commission Act 2015 (KPHCC) and Khyber Medical Teaching Institution Reforms Act 2015 (MTI).
The main purpose of KPHCC was to regulate public and private healthcare establishments in the province.
The KPHCC was supposed to conduct training for the healthcare providers, ensure rights of patients, register healthcare establishments and clinics, inspect health facilities, issue accreditation and address complaints.
The incumbent government first appointed a board for the KPHCC but it was dissolved within a few months due to a host of reasons.
Taimur Khan Jhagra, provincial minister of finance who also holds the portfolio of health as additional charge, helped KPHCC get a board of governors last year.
He too had expectations from the BoG and hoped it would overcome the challenges that the KPHCC had been facing for the past many years.
“Our hopes are shattered as an important regulatory (KPHCC) has become dead. All positions were lying vacant there and the only administrative officer serving as chief executive officer in the headquarter is also relieved due to reasons best known to the health minister and the board of governors,” a senior official of the provincial Health Department told The News.
“When I stated KPHCC is dead it is practically dead as it has not been non-functional for the last few years but for eight months all its operations were suspended by the board due to lack of staff.”
Besides the chief executive position, all posts of the directors and deputy directors are lying vacant for a few years.
According to government officials, 29 senior positions in KPHCC headquarters are vacant, including the chief executive officer, director clinical governance, director complaints and legal, director licensing and registration, director human resource support services,
internal auditor, chief finance officer, manager IT, deputy director clinical governance, deputy director clinical governance, deputy director complaints and legal, deputy director HR support service, manager HR, manager legal and investigation, manager complaints, etc.
“Nobody knows exactly what happened to this flagship project as we heard the BoG planned to hire competent people from the market and fill all key positions on merit,” an official of the health department.
According to officials of the Health department, the regulatory body has been delivered to what they called “non-trained and unprofessional inspectors of the previous notorious Health Regulatory Authority (HRA) to run its operations.
Interestingly, a former official of KPHCC told The News that the BoG neither recruited staff nor introduced amendments to the KPHCC 2015 Act so that the regulatory body could cope with the modern day challenges.
“The board members unfortunately wasted a very precious opportunity.
The board was supposed to introduce amendments to the 2015 Act, frame regulations and form rules and then hire the best available team of professionals to the commission,” he explained.
Pleading anonymity, he said another decision of the board that turned it into a toothless body was suspending all operations against quackery in the province, till KPHCC had its own regular staff.
“Now there is no check on quackery in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” he said.
Efforts were made to seek Minister Taimur Jhagra’s reaction to the story but he avoided commenting on the issue.
Previously he stated that the government had chosen the BoG members on merit, hoping they would utilise their energies and skills to make decisions on merit.
The minister had said the government had decided to fill the gap in other BoGs of certain Medical Teaching Institutions.
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