PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health department has decided to monitor the use of social media by its employees for action against those making critical comments on the government policies, claim officials.

They told Dawn that the department would also withdraw from medical teaching institutions its deputationist officials found ‘misusing’ social media platforms.

The officials said the department had established the Social Media Monitoring Unit to ensure ‘effective coordination, oversight and implementation’ of its social media policy in health facilities and offices in line with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government Servants (Conduct) Rules, 1987.

According to them, the SMMU will operate under the supervision of additional secretary of the (establishment and administration) with deputy secretary administration, deputy secretary (litigation), director (administration) and deputy director (human resource) of the directorate-general health services and deputy director (IT) and section officer (general) of the health department as members.

Establishes unit for enforcement of its social media policy in health centres

A notification issued by the office of the health secretary said the newly-formed unit would act an oversight body for the monitoring of the social media activities of the employees of the health department. It will coordinate with the district health officers, medical superintendents, various directors and other field offices for the adherence to rules on the use of social media, examine the contents of a message posted on social media platforms and determine if they’re embarrassing for the government or amount to politicking.

Its responsibilities included the formulation of strategies regarding awareness and propagation of health policy among employees and recommendation of disciplinary actions, and ensuring the maintaining of records regarding the violation of social media policy by employees. It will meet regularly to review the implementation of the policy.

Another health department letter titled ‘performance and conduct of the civil servants working in MTIs on deputation’ was dispatched to all 11 MTIs in the province asking them to strictly monitor social media activities of civil servants working under their supervision.

It said the civil servants working in MTIs were governed by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government Servants (Conduct) Rules, 1987, and other relevant laws, rules and regulations of the government.

“As a large number of civil servants work in MTls on deputation basis under the direct control of Board of Governors in the respective MTI, you are requested to strictly monitor their performance as well as their professional conduct particularly in use of all social media platforms,” it said.

The letter also read that general instructions had been given to the health department’s functionaries regarding the use of social media platforms, while directions had been issued to MTIs to report the names of the civil servants found guilty of committing gross violation of those instructions and rules.

It said that the department, after receiving complaints, might withdraw the services of such employees from MTIs.

In a separate notification, the department directed all MTI directors to monitor the use of social media by its civil servants.

The officials said the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments had already given guidelines to civil servants about the use of social media.

They said the government recently considered a proposal for replicating restrictions for its employees regarding interaction with media to the use of social media by them.

Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2022

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