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ISLAMABAD: Minister for National Health Services (NHS) Aamir Mehmood Kiyani has announced his decision to hold a special audit of over 20 ancillary departments of the ministry.

“The minister informed us about the audit at a meeting held last week. Though there are different types of audits such as financial and technical, according to my understanding the major focus will be on performance as financial audits are regularly conducted by the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP),” NHS Director General Dr Asad Hafeez told Dawn.

“It is good to hold an audit as it will give an idea to the minister that where are the departments at the moment and where they should be at the end of five years. In performance audits it is observed what the objectives are and if the performance matches the objectives,” he said.

Minister Aamir Mehmood Kiyani announced decision at a meeting with officials of ministry last week, DG says

In reply to a question, he said two years ago a performance audit of all the ancillary departments was held and recommendations given for their capacity building.

“During the new audit it will also be observed if objectives were achieved or not. It is good that a separate audit of every department would be conducted,” Dr Hafeez said.

There are over 20 ancillary departments of the ministry and some of the important ones are: Pakistan Medical and Dental Council, Expanded Programme on Immunisation, Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap), National Institute of Health (NIH), National Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Cell, Pakistan Medical Research Council, Health Services Academy, Tobacco Control Cell, National Institute of Population Studies, Pakistan Red Crescent Society and Pakistan College of Physicians and Surgeons.

The minister also told the meeting that there was a need to make all the departments accountable.

He also sought a report about expenditures of the departments.

When contacted, NIH Executive Director Dr Aamer Ikram said after taking charge in 2017 he had requested the AGP to hold an audit of the institute.

“Moreover, in 2018, we also held a special audit of the NIH and the Human Organ Transplant Authority. Though we don’t require any audit but appreciate the decision and are ready to provide data and relevant record.”

In reply to a question, Dr Ikram said he would appreciate all sorts of audits and cooperate with the ministry.

Drap’s spokesperson Akhtar Abbas said as Drap was an autonomous body, not only all decisions were taken after getting approval from the policy board but also an external audit was carried out to ensure no one wasted the funds.

“Audits are done across the globe to ensure transparency and accountability and we appreciate the decision of the minister. We will provide all the relevant information and record to the ministry,” he said.

An official of Drap, requesting not to be quoted, added that the management had already sought curriculum vitae from all the officers to see if they were competent enough to hold the posts.

Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2018