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61 health facilities lying inactive for want of staff

May 06, 2012

KARACHI, May 6: As many as 61 new healthcare facilities, including 50-bed hospitals, maternity homes and dispensaries, constructed about six years back in the city are still waiting for doctors and paramedical staffs, medicines and equipment to become operational in a meaningful manner, it emerged on Saturday.

A source in the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s health department said that the municipal administration needed about 600 general physicians and specialists and about 1,850 non-gazetted staffers, including paramedics and nursing staffs, to make these dormant health facilities functional in different districts of the city.

Another source said that once the doctors were made available, the city administration would be able also to get control and possession of the buildings, where civil works had already been completed some years back.

A big population in Shah Faisal, Malir, Mehmoodabad, Orangi Town, Baldia Town, Gadap, Landhi, New Karachi, Bin Qasim, Korangi, SITE, Lyari and Keamari is being deprived of vital healthcare facilities, which would otherwise have been available very close to their areas.

Tracing the developments related to the inoperative new healthcare units in question, a source said that the request for the approval of the SNE (sanctioned new expenditures) for the 61 healthcare facilities was moved about six years back, but the Sindh government failed to take up the matter properly.

However, the government had announced a special allocation of Rs250 million for the then city government’s expenditures on the eve of the 2007-o8 in connection with the new hospitals, maternity homes and dispensaries. However, the promise could not be fulfilled.

The city administration kept its struggle on for the acquisition of the doctors, paramedics and equipment and medicines and it was in June 2011 that the finance department accorded permission for the creation of 1,836 posts up to grade-16 and 578 posts of doctors and others, the source said.

What to say about the appointments of doctors, which was in the provincial government’s domain, the KMC had been unable to appoint the staffers up to grade 16 too as necessary orders in this regard were still awaited to drop down from the provincial government, the source added.

The new buildings in question included five 50-bed hospitals and 24 maternity homes and mother and child health centres.

When contacted, KMC’s medical services director Dr Nasir Javed Sheikh said that he was badly in need of doctors and paramedics and other related facilities to make these 61 health facilities operational and run these on a fully-fledged basis.

A few of the buildings were being utilised, but not as per original plans, he added, saying some of doctors and other staffs engaged at other centres and medicines meant for some of the old health facilities had been diverted to the dormant facilities from time to time, but that not served the purpose.

He said that funds for the appointment of new doctors had already been included in the Sindh government’s budget.

Replying to another question, Dr Sheikh said that KMC would not be able to make the dormant hospitals operative, even if the Sindh government advertised the posts of doctors, unless the KMC was allowed to recruit staffs up to grade 16.