KARACHI: The Sindh High Court was informed that health authorities had failed to utilise an amount of Rs1.1 billion allocated for the purchase of machinery and equipment of the Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi in the fiscal year 2019-20.

The court had directed the provincial authorities to release funds to install equipment and facilities at one of the major public health facilities of the city in order to rectify the deficiencies highlighted in a judicial inquiry conducted in 2018. The CHK medical superintendent in a report, dated Oct 10, conceded that the total allocation for the purchase of equipment and machinery was Rs1,100 million, but due to short time tenders could not be materialised and thus the amount was lapsed.

The purchase of MRI and CT scan machines for the hospital had not been done as yet and the inquiry report said that a committee, headed by radiology department head Prof Saba Sohail, was constituted for condemnation of already installed CT scan and MRI machines.

The committee after detailed deliberation decided to get both machines upgraded rather than condemnation, which would be a more economical and time saving process, the report stated.

Accordingly, such recommendations were placed before the hospital management board and the same were endorsed by the board and now work order would be awarded soon to the respective company for upgrade of such machines, it maintained.

The MS further stated in the report that on the request of the health department, the finance department had allocated Rs781.800m for purchase of machinery equipment and other items in the fiscal year 2021-22 and a tender had been published in newspapers for procurement of equipment and it would be opened on Oct 20.

In 2018, the SHC had directed the provincial authorities to release funds to install equipment and facilities at the CHK in order to rectify deficiencies highlighted in the judicial inquiry report. The SHC had directed the district and sessions judge (south) to hold a judicial inquiry into the administrative affairs of the CHK after a three-year-old child went missing from its out-patient department in May 2018 and health and hospital officials said that the closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed at the OPD section were not working.

In March 2019, the SHC had summoned the provincial secretaries for finance and health regarding a delay in release of funds to install equipment at CHK as earlier it was informed that a summary seeking Rs1.1bn to purchase machines and equipment had been placed before the cabinet committee concerned for consideration and the health secretary had submitted that the approval would be received within 15 days, but the then MS, Dr Robina Bashir, said that a response was yet to be received from the higher authorities in that regard.

In December 2019, the SHC had also directed the chief secretary, the secretary and the additional secretary of the finance department to appear in person to explain why the summary had not been approved.

In January 2020, the additional finance secretary Shahab Qamar Ansari submitted that the finance department had released funds for purchase of machinery and maintenance and repair of hospitals as well as for upgrade of 80 operation theatres and purchase of machinery and equipment for various hospitals of Sindh.

The then secretary for health, Zahid Abbasi, had confirmed that he had received the funds and said that tenders were to be opened on Jan 24 and procurement of equipment for CHK to be made in the shortest possible time.

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2021



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