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LAHORE: The efforts of Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid to merge two health departments seemed to have suffered a setback owing to opposition from within both wings against their unification.

Earlier, the Punjab chief minister had also turned down her proposal, directing the health authorities to seek comments from the departments concerned. The same had also been suggested by a cabinet committee that had met under Chief Minister Usman Buzdar on Aug 8, an official privy to the information told Dawn.

The official said Dr Rashid tried to deal with the administrative and legal matter single-handedly as she neither sought input from the government departments concerned nor from experts of the two wings.

Authorities asked to seek recommendations from depts concerned

Over the next couple of days, he said, senior health managers suggested to her that the previous government had done extensive work before bifurcation of the health department. She was also told that a series of joint sessions of government departments, including law, finance, regulations etc, had been convened to prevent any possible financial, administrative and legal crisis.

Vice chancellors, principals, some former heads of public sector medical institutions and prominent serving experts were also consulted besides other stakeholders.

The official said health officers were of the view that unification of the two departments would be complex and could not be handled in a couple of meetings. Hundreds of service-related important documents had gone missing when files were transported from the Civil Secretariat to the new primary and secondary health department building on Jail Road after the bifurcation, he added.

The health authorities had also briefed the cabinet division members about this on finding the health minister adamant, showing apprehensions of another crisis and risk to service matters of hundreds of employees.

“Resultantly, the proposal of the health minister has been turned down by the chief minister who ordered to get the matter assessed by government departments before presenting a proposal of reunification of the health wings,” the official said.

On the directions of the chief minister, the health department has sought recommendations from the law minister, secretaries of both health wings, regulations secretary, health services director general, former Allama Iqbal Medical College principal Prof Dr Eice Mohammad and the former pro-vice chancellor of King Edward Medical University.

Through a letter issued by the health department, the terms of reference were also dispatched to them seeking their comments about the reunification.

A copy of the notification was also available with Dawn, which asked the officers concerned to furnish reports on development of a coordination mechanism between the two departments, or any other option considering administrative, human resource and functional aspects.

“Also identify implications, if any, upon lower tiers of both the administrative departments,” the letter stated giving them 15 days to furnish their reports.

The official said contents of the letter indicated that the chief minister desired to explore other options before bringing about improvement in the health department rather than focusing on a single proposal of reunification of both wings as presented by Health Minister Dr Rashid.

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2018