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Probe begins into hepatitis programme anomalies

July 24, 2012


KARACHI, July 23: The Chief Minister’s Inspection Team (CMIT) started on Monday a probe into the allegation of irregularities in the Sindh hepatitis prevention and control programme.

Dr Zulfiqar Ali Siyal, the newly-appointed programme manager, submitted some records and evidence to the CMIT in support of his allegations of malpractice and misappropriation observed in the programme during the period of his predecessor.

A source in the Sindh government said the CMIT had called Dr Sial, the programme manager, in order to investigate the allegations levelled by him in a July 11 letter. “Dr Sial has been asked to furnish further documents at the earliest so that any probe into his allegations can be initiated,” the source added.

Dr Siyal told Dawn that after assuming the charge of his new assignment in the hepatitis programme he had sent a letter to the provincial health secretary, informing him of the alleged malpractices in the programme prior to him.

“Blacklisted companies were entertained, false billings of millions of rupees were done and short shelf life medicines were procured for the programme,” he said, adding that he had got relevant records and evidence in support of his allegations.

The programme in question, known as chief minister’s initiatives, was launched in 2009 and was given another extension of three years this year, following which an amount of Rs1 billion was allocated in the Sindh government’s annual development programme of 2012-13.

Meanwhile, Dr Siyal headed a meeting on Monday to review the preparations regarding observing the World Hepatitis Day on July 28. It was decided in the meeting that the day would be marked with holding of seminars and awareness programme only due to Ramazan.

He said that only standard medicines would be procured under the programme in future.

When contacted by Dawn, former programme manager Dr Abdul Majeed Chhutto claimed that competent authorities had in the evening restored him as the programme manager and held the posting order of Dr Siyal in abeyance.

“Earlier, during the day I have submitted my replies to the CMIT in regard to the allegations levelled against me,” Dr Chutto said, adding that the allegations were all fabricated and baseless and in fact a conspiracy against the provincial hepatitis programme.

He said that so far about 1.4 million patients of hepatitis B and C had been treated, while about 4.6 million people had been given preventive vaccines against hepatitis B.