PESHAWAR: The employees of the outsourced hospitals in Kurram, Bajaur, South Waziristan and tribal Mohmand districts have been waiting for their salaries from the past one year.

Trans-Continental Pharma (TCP) runs seven Category-D hospitals in Pashat and Nawagai in Bajaur; Darazinda in Dera Ismail Kham; Sholam and Toi Khula in South Waziristan; and Alizai in Kurrum tribal districts under public-private partnership.

Medical Emergency Resilience Foundation (Merf) has also been facing shortage of funds and the employees have not received salaries for the past 20 months in Category-D hospital in Mohmand tribal district. It has been saying to relinquish charge of the hospital to health department owing to financial issues.

Recently, the district health officer of Mohmand wrote a letter to director-general health services (DGHS) that Merf had expressed inability to manage the hospital owing to lack of funds. Citing a letter of Merf, he said that it had clearly stated that without clearance of its outstanding liabilities of more than Rs470 million, the organisation would not be able to continue services at the hospital beyond June 30, 2024.

Official says funds will be released after scrutiny of oversight committee

The contract of Merf with Health Foundation (HF) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and DGHS had expired on June 30, 2023. Another organisation has already been awarded contract for running the hospital but due to non-existence of Board of Governors (BoG) at HF the hospital has not been handed over to the new partner. The BoG of HF is the approving authority in the province for outsourcing of hospitals under public-private partnership.

The DHO pointed out that it was the only Category-D hospital in Safi tehsil of Mohmand tribal district where Merf had been providing quality health services to people since 2020. “In case of its exit on June 30, 2024, the facility will be closed that will result in sufferings of people,” he added.

He said that with the existing human resources at district level, health department was not in a position to manage the hospital if the current partner organisation stopped running the facility. He said that finance department might be approached by planning cell of health department for clearance of the outstanding liabilities and the current implementing partner might be directed to continue health delivery services till the awarding of contract to the new organisation.

“Alternately, the department should depute staff for the hospital to continue uninterrupted health services to people,” said the Mohmand DHO in the letter. Senior doctors and employees have threatened to close OPD of the hospital on May 20 if their salaries are not paid. They said that they would boycott emergency services on May 25 in case of non-payment of their dues in one-go.

Similarly, staff of three hospitals run by TCP hasn’t received salaries for one year, according to sources. They said that private pharmacies had been opened the hospitals illegally and tax were deducted from staff since 2022 but not deposited to Federal Bureau of Revenue as they were not given tax certificates.

They said that finance director had suspended pharmacies and terminated other staff illegally and the hospitals working under TCP had no funds to pay salaries to staff and purchase medicines.

Sources said the hospitals didn’t have syringes, medicines and diesel for generator, urging health department to take action in that regard and ensure payment of salaries to staff. They said that many specialists left the hospitals for non-payment of salaries.

Dr Adnan Taj, the managing director of Health Foundation, when contacted, said that though finance department released maximum budget till December 2023 and for the quarter of January-March 2024, they sent budget requests to outsourcing oversight committee and DGHS to accord financial concurrence for release to those firms.

The government, he said, had formed oversight committee to evaluate the performance of outsourced hospitals prior to release of their budget on quarterly basis.

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2024

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