• Not one of 36 health facilities submitted audit report
• Health dept orders forensic audit of five institutions
• Govt gives Rs89bn in grant to several charitable hospitals

KARACHI: Despite passage of considerable time and several reminders, not a single health institution, including those getting government grants amounting to billions of rupees over the years, has submitted its audit report or details about its cost structures yet, it emerged on Saturday.

Sources said that the caretaker provincial government had initially issued a letter to 19 charitable health facilities on Aug 23 this year, directing them to get their accounts audited by a reputable firm.

No response, however, was received from these institutions in more than three months, the sources added.

The letter, they said, was followed by several reminders.

Last month, the health department had sent a letter to 17 public and private sector institutions, seeking details about the costs they incurred on different medical procedures, their salary structure and per day cost of hospitalisation in the intensive care unit or general ward. Yet, there was no response.

The department, the sources said, responded to their ‘silence’ by requesting the director general of audit in writing to conduct a ‘forensic audit’ of last three years of five institutions in the first phase.

These institutions are: Pir Syed Abdul Qadir Shah Jeelani Institute of Medical Sciences Gambat, Institute of Medical Sciences Jacobabad, Institute of Medical Science Shahdadpur, Sindh Institute of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences Hyderabad and Sindh Institute of Advanced Endoscopy Gastroenterology Karachi.

No improvement in healthcare

According to the sources, the government allocation for charitable health institutions alone currently stands around Rs89 billion.

This year, they said, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government increased the health budget by 10 per cent to Rs272.16bn. This included enhanced grant-in-aid amounting to billions of rupees to several institutions.

However, they said, the government never subjected these institutions to any financial scrutiny or accountability exercise to ensure transparency and better use of public funds.

Resultantly, the government strategy to give away a large chunk of the budget amount every year to certain institutions failed to bring about any improvement in the state of healthcare in the province, they added.

“It seems that people are waiting for the caretaker set-up to complete its term and leave. But, the exercise has exposed lapses in the system and one hopes that the new government would look into this matter and ensure transparency,” said a senior health department official.

The institutions asked to furnish an audit report and details of cost structures included the National Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation, Sindh Institute of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Sindh Integrated Emergency Health Services, National Institute of Blood Diseases, Pir Abdul Qadir Shah Jeelani Institute of Gambat, Shahadapur Institute of Science, Syed Abdullah Shah Institute of Medical Sciences.

Other institutions included the Kidney Centre, Indus Hospital, Rahmatullah Benevolent Trust, Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centres (Sindh), Benazir Shaheed Model Addiction Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre, Pakistan National Forum on Women’s Health, The Cancer Foundation, Child Life Foundation, Trust Fatimid Foundation, Kashif Iqbal Thalassaemia Centre, Patients Aid Foundation, Patients Welfare Association, Women & Children Medical Care Trust, Preen Rasool Thalassemia Care Trust (Qasimabad, Hyderabad), Afzaal Memorial Thalassaemia Foundation, Agha Welfare Trust (Sindh), Integrated Emergency Health Services, Children of Adam, Fatimyah Hospital, Haemophilia Welfare Society, International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences, Infectious Diseases Hospital and Ziauddin Group of Hospitals.

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2023

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