AKHS accused of violating terms of MoU to run govt health units

By Gul Hamaad Farooqui

CHITRAL: The Aga Khan Health Service (AKHS) Chitral has been accused of violating terms of the agreement under which it was handed over healthcare units in Chitral by the KP government under a public-private partnership programme.

Under thes public-private partnership programme, Rural Health Centre (RHC) Shagram, RHC Mastuj and the Tehsil Headquarters (THQ) Hospital Garam Chashma  were handed over to the AKHS.

For this partnership, a formal agreement was signed between the provincial government and the AKHS. But it has emerged that the government is fulfilling the terms of the agreement while the AKHS is violating it.

According to documents available with ChitralToday, the RHC Shagram was provided Rs6,551,190 as a salary budget and Rs1,166,530 as a non-salary budget for the fiscal year 2013-14.

At the RHC Mastuj, 11 doctors, nurses, dispensers, paramedics, etc. of the health department are working and are paid salaries by the government.

According to documents obtained from the district health officer Chitral office, these healthcare facilities are equipped with all necessary machinery, doctors, nurses and other staff.

The government also released to the AKHSP a huge amount for hiring private doctors and other staff on contract to meet the human resource shortage and facilitate the patients. The AKHSP was also being provided millions of rupees for providing free medicines and laboratory test facilities to the needy patients.

In the year 2010 to 2018, the AKHSP  was given Rs30,784,144 for provision of basic facilities to the patients.

The health department released Rs13,180,329 to the AKHS from 2014 to 2018 to hire doctors and other staff to meet their shortage and purchase medicines for free distribution among needy patients.

However, the AKHS local management did not hire any extra medical or non-medical staff and failed to provide free of cost medicines to needy patients.

There is no record how and where the AKHS spent the amount provided by the government.

There are 47 employees working on government payroll at the THQ hospital in Garam Chashma while the AKHS has hired only 23 staff there.

The government released Rs34,592,472 from the state exchequer to the hospital for free treatment, free medicines, laboratory tests, X-rays etc and to hire private doctors to meet the shortage.

Patients and local people said the OPD chit in government hospitals was issued for Rs10  but the AKHS was charging the patients Rs170 at the OPD and Rs280 for a visit to a specialist doctor in all the three hospitals.

The private entity charges for X-rays, ultrasound and other tests ranging from Rs200 to Rs500.

Mr Islamuddin, a former senior bureaucrat, who was the chairman of the health committee of the Tehsil Headquarters Hospital Garam Chashma, told this correspondent: “When I saw AKHS violating the MoU signed with the government by selling medicines purchased on funds provided by the government to the patients I resigned from the committee as a protest.”

Former nazim Abdul Qayyum of the area said AKHS was not providing any relief to the locals even though it was being given funds for purchase of medicines.

“I have written complaints to the chief secretary Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and others highlighting the issues but to no avail.”

When this correspondent approached AKHSP Chitral manager Meraj Khan to obtain his comments on the allegations, he refused to speak on record.