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PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has replaced the director general health services with a junior doctor in violation of rules and merit, sources say.

According to rules, the secretary health is required to send a panel of three doctors from the top 10 on seniority list to the government through the chief secretary for selection of the DG after vetting the same at the law, establishment and regulation department. In the current case, a single name was sent to replace DG Dr Mohammad Zafar with Dr Waheed Burki, then district health officer (DHO), Peshawar, they said.

They said that the new DG was 12th on the seniority list.

“Ironically, the previous DG health was made DHO without any reason. The notification issued on February 13 stated that the DG couldn’t deliver which led to his replacement,” sources said.

According to them, Dr Zafar was elevated to the top position by the interim government because of his high qualification and performance, but the PTI-led government was not at ease with him due to his principled stand in cases of appointments, award of contracts, transfers and postings.

The sources said that presently only one official was running the personnel section of directorate of health services as two other had been transferred without providing replacement.

“This has brought the directorate of health to a standstill. The repeated requests to fill the vacant posts by then DG were ignored by the government,” the sources said.

There’s only one clerk at the planning and development cell which is supposed to make purchases for the entire province. Sources say that Rs1.5 billion released for equipments is likely to lapse as only three months remain in the current financial year.

The directorate of health, an implementing organ of the secretariat, has been squeezed to the extent that it couldn’t operate, they said.

The government also didn’t pay heed to the former DG’s requests to authorise him for purchase of new equipments and later blamed him for the delay. The directorate was further squeezed when six persons were sent on training and three transferred without replacement.

The sources said that there was no plan to appoint permanent chief executives of the four teaching hospitals despite advertisements for their selection 10 months ago. The teaching hospitals were being run by professors holding dual charge which belied the government’s claim of reforms.

They claimed that then DG had been repeatedly asking the government to appoint permanent chief executives, but it continued with ad-hocism.

Similarly, the post of chief drug inspector is vacant from the past several months, which is not only hampering purchase of drugs, but also the checking of sale of fake drugs in the market. “All this has been brought into the notice of secretary health, but no action is taken in this regard as yet. At least three secretaries have been transferred since the PTI assumed power,” the sources said.

They said that the present government had not been able to implement the restructuring programme of the health department in view of the 18th amendment though paper work for the same had been completed by the previous government.

Due to delay on the part of secretariat the new government took nine months to release funds for the free cancer treatment, which was approved by the previous government. Such programmes are implemented by the directorate of health, which is supposed to issue directives to all the DHOs regarding government policies.

Dr Zafar had previously held senior positions like additional secretary health, chief executive of the Khyber Teaching Hospital, etc. None of the health minister and secretary bothered to receive phone call despite repeated attempts by this reporter to seek their comments on the appointment of new DG.