KP's top healthcare regulator quits over dept’s ‘unwarranted interference’

Updated October 20, 2019

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Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Care Commission Dr Mohammad Rehman on Saturday stepped down saying he’s unable to stay put as the ‘unwarranted interference’ of the health department has brought the commission’s working to a standstill. — AFP/File
Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Care Commission Dr Mohammad Rehman on Saturday stepped down saying he’s unable to stay put as the ‘unwarranted interference’ of the health department has brought the commission’s working to a standstill. — AFP/File

PESHAWAR: Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Care Commission Dr Mohammad Rehman on Saturday stepped down saying he’s unable to stay put as the ‘unwarranted interference’ of the health department has brought the commission’s working to a standstill.

The development comes over a week after a member of the commission’s board, Gohar Javed, quit.

In the letter of resignation sent to the chief secretary, Dr Mohammad Rehman complained about the ‘extreme highhandedness, immaturity and incompetence of the people at the helm of the health department and said the commission failed to hire the most essential staff.

He alleged that the department was unaware of the HHC’s importance which has been created to regulate healthcare services in private and public sector through KP Health Care Commission Act 2015.

Dr Rehman said in Feb, the board began the process to fill the HCC’s technical positions but the health department stopped it citing the government’s recruitment ban as the reason despite knowing that the commission didn’t have even the bare minimum professionals required to oversee technical matters.

Insists threatened with dire consequences if lawfully-approved decisions implemented

“We have conveyed the critical situation regarding unavailability of staff to the department, which is adamant on interfering in the affairs of the HCC though the Act doesn’t authorise and empower it to do so. As a resultant, the body is faced with an acute shortage of staff,” he said.

The HCC chairman said the commission had filled only the positions of the chief executive officer, director operations and business support and additional director monitoring and evaluation but their contractual terms would end in Nov leaving the body with no officer.

He said three of the four director positions and all 11 manager posts had been vacant since the commission became functional five years ago.

Dr Rehman said the department had the ‘mala fide intentions of vitiating the board’s environment’ as it had threatened the commission of dire consequences over the implementation of the lawfully-approved decisions.

He wondered if the health department was authorised to write threatening letters to him.

The HCC chairman also accused the relevant health department officials of not only absenting themselves from the commission’s meetings but also to ask other members to do so to cause a lack of quorum to stop the board from deciding matters.

He said he had produced the relevant documents to substantiate his claims.

Dr Rehman said the health department had failed to devise a mechanism for performance-based accountability of the commission as required by the law and was interfering in its affairs on flimsy and arbitrary grounds to serve own ends.

“It is unwise to stick to my position in the present situation in which the government is granting autonomy to hospitals and extending the Sehat Sahulat Programme, where the HCC has a big role to play and ensure the quality care, as the commission can’t operate independently,” he said.

The HCC’s BoG consists of three senior government officials and seven people from the private sector selected by the Search and Nomination Council with the health minister as their top boss.

Every member gets Rs25,000 honorarium and travel and daily allowances for attending every meeting.

The board is bound by the law to give advice to the HCC regarding the implementation of the government’s policy in line with the law.

Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2019