ISLAMABAD: The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) has decided to expedite work on the construction of its purpose-built building at the National Institute of Health (NIH).
The project would be completed at a cost of about Rs1 billion.
“The building, which will initially have five storeys, will be completed in 18 months. PC-II has already been approved and hopefully PC-I will also be approved this month after which construction work would start. According to an estimate, Rs1 billion would be spent on the project,” Drap Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Asim Rauf told Dawn.
Once the multi-storey building is constructed, controversies regarding drug related issues would be addressed. Moreover, Drap will save over Rs5 million per month which is currently being paid as the rent of a building in G-9 where some of the Drap offices work. The new building will be constructed on 20 kanals on the premises of the NIH.
Purpose-built building would have face detection system to allow only authorised persons, says official
After the 18th constitutional amendment in 2010, the health sector became a provincial subject and the drug registration board became defunct. A registration board was established again under the Drap Act 2012. Drap started working in different offices, some of them in ‘C’ Block of Pak Secretariat where only ministries were allowed to have offices. So the management of Drap was under pressure to vacate the buildings. Moreover, some of the offices of Drap are in a rented building at Blue Area.
An official of Drap, requesting not to be quoted, said in early 2013 it was decided that a building should be hired to shift all offices to one place. So the building spreading over 30,000 square feet was hired on Rs4.6 million per month rent in G-9, which has increased over the years. But criticism started that the rent of the building was too much and Drap should not waste money from the exchequer. To end the criticism, in July 2014, the then health minister Saira Afzal Tarar announced that the process to acquire 20 kanals to construct Drap’s own building had been started.
“However, even the foundation stone could not be laid during her tenure. When the PTI came to power, its health minister Aamir Mehmood Kiani also announced to construct the building but no development was made, the official added.
When former special assistant to prime minister on health Dr Zafar Mirza was informed about the issue he promised to get the possession of the land and later the foundation of the building was laid. However, the construction work could not be started till date, he said.
“We have cleared almost Rs5 million, which were pending against the land of Federal Drug Surveillance Laboratory to the NIH and now it has been decided to start the construction of the building at the earliest,” Dr Rauf said.
The building would have international protocols.
“An automated system with face detection would be introduced in the building after which only authorised persons would be able to enter the premises. There will be a mechanism for record keeping. One floor in the building would be allocated for Pakistan Pharmacy Council as pharmacists have direct relation with Drap,” he said.
In January last year, while laying the foundation of the building Dr Mirza had said it would be completed in June 2021. He claimed that it was part of initiatives to revamp the authority and run it on modern lines as per international best practices.
“Predictable regulation, transparency and efficiency will be the abiding principles in doing so. The entire system of the authority is being computerised so that utmost transparency is ensured,” he had said.
Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2021