PESHAWAR: The provincial health department has asked the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Care Commission (HCC) to suspend its operations as following resignation of four private members of its board of governors (BoG) it could not take decisions due to incomplete quorum. Seven private and three ex officio members make the BoG.
In a letter on November 12, the health department has asked the HCC to suspend operations as it needs seven board members to complete the quorum and take decisions. It has also asked the chief executive officer (CEO) of HCC to quit the office soon after expiry of his contract as there is no provision for extension under the law.
The department’s response came after a letter to it by HCC CEO Azaar Sardar on Oct 21 wherein he had drawn the attention of the authorities concerned to the end of contract of officers and measures for their replacement.
Special secretary health Dr Syed Farooq Jamil told Dawn that according to the rules and the relevant act, they would see what arrangements could be made in the interim period.
Says HCC BoG short of members to take decisions
Sources said that since taking office by the new government after the 2018 elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the working relationship between the health department and HCC had not been satisfactory.
Health minister Hisham Inamullah has been alleging that HCC is being run by a group of relatives, while the commission holds the health department responsible for the messy state of affairs.
Three high-ranking administrative officers have left HCC after completion of their three-year tenure which has brought its operations to a standstill as there is no replacement for them, according to the CEO’s letter.
His contract will end on November 19 (tomorrow), which will leave HCC without any officer to look after the body supposed to check malpractices in the health sector, it said.
He has requested for appointment of new officers so that the commission could continue its work in a smooth manner. According to him, in the absence of officers, it will not be possible to carry out HCC’s operations, including registration, renewal and sealing and de-sealing of facilities.
The commission will also be rendered unable to carry out other functions, including complaints management, anti-quackery drives, court matters, processing of salaries, payments, rents, file processing, etc.
On October 21, HCC chairman Dr Mohammad Rehman also tendered resignation, citing health department’s unwarranted intervention in the commission’s affairs and hampering recruitment of essential staff by the government.
“The commission will virtually become redundant, leading to tremendous crisis,” he said in the letter, which is yet to be responded.
The health department has lost control over HCC as it has been established under the KP Health Care Commission Act, 2015, under which the commission is an autonomous body, to be run by the Board of Commissioners, without any role of the health department.
The commission is required to regulate facilities providing treatment and diagnostic services to people in public and private sectors. Another board member, Gohar Javed, also resigned in early October.
Sources said that HCC had been asking the health department to ensure appointment of staff to run the body effectively, but all such requests hadn’t been responded.
Only five officers were hired in October 2016, including CEO, two directors and two additional directors, of the total 29 advertised positions, they said.
They said that HCC had advertised key positions thrice, but didn’t hire anyone. In April 2019, a move by the HCC to recruit 56 persons was put on hold by the health minister, they claimed.
Three positions of directors and 11 posts of managers have been lying vacant since the commission became operational five years ago.
Only three days ago, the Peshawar High Court ordered HCC to regulate the rates of the public and private health facilities, but the ground situation shows that it couldn’t function in the absence of executive officers.
Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2019