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PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has extended the contract of People’s Primary Healthcare Initiative (PPHI), a private organisation, to run 571 basic health units in the province in violation of the Local Government Act 2013, according to sources.

The PPHI, owned by PTI leader Jehangir Khan Tareen, was launched in the era of former president Pervez Musharraf in the country.

It has been managing the basic health units (BHUs) in seven calamity-prone districts of the province through Sarhad Rural Support Programme since 2007.

The former government not only extended its contract for three years but also authorised it to run basic health units in 10 more districts. PPHI currently runs the basic health units in 17 districts.

The organisation owned by PTI leader manages basic health units

According to law, the BHUs come under the domain of the district government but the health department has approved a summary, seeking extension of the PPHI contract, without waiting for the installation of local governments.

The three-year contract, signed between PPHI and health department in 2013, is going to expire in January 2016. The renewal of the contract was granted six months before in a hurry.

Commonly such extensions are given days before the expiry of the previously signed agreements and Memorandum of Understanding etc but in this particular case, the provincial government showed more promptness as district governments are about to be installed in the province.

“There is more likelihood that the local representatives would take note of the out-of-way contract to the PPHI because powers to manage BHUs have been devolved to the districts after implementation of the local government law,” a district health officer (DHO), wishing not be named, told Dawn.

He said that the move could face lawsuits in courts once the local bodies were in place, especially in those districts where opposition parties were at the helm of affairs.

“Non-involvement of district government in extending the contract is an encroachment upon the powers of the elected members, who will see it as an intervention by the province in the local affairs,” said the DHO.

The official said that except the district headquarters hospitals (DHQs), all the health units come under the purview of the district government.

The agreement is also in conflict with the Public Private Partnership Act 2014, implemented by PTI government, which allows such contracts after fulfillment of the laid down formalities to ensure transparency and benefit the people.

According to it, such partnerships with non-government organisations shall undergo complete scrutiny by prescribed committees before getting node from the planning and development department of the government.

A recent report of the Independent Monitoring Committee of the health department found that PPHI’s work was better than other organisations, which also managed health units in other districts.

It claimed that attendance of doctors and other staff had shown improvement in the outlets, which had previously been found without staff, under the PPHI.

The provincial government has been finding it hard to manage the administrative and financial matters of the basic health units and improve primary care.

Therefore, it hands over the basic health units and dispensaries to private organisations to improve staff’s attendance and provide effective healthcare to the people.

Published in Dawn, August 24th, 2015

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