PESHAWAR: The government is outsourcing six health centers in tribal districts to non-governmental organizations under the public-private partnership program, according to sources.
"A proposal has been submitted to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Foundation, which will likely submit tenders after completing the necessary formalities and invite NGOs with experience in the provision of health services under the public-private partnership initiative," officials said.
Health facilities to be contracted include the Toikhula and Mola Khan Srai Sarokai Type D hospitals in South Waziristan, the Dogar Kurram Type D Hospital, Mamad Gat in Mohmand, the Darazinda Type D Hospital in the former Dera Ismail Khan border region and Type D Ghiljo Hospital in Orakzai Tribal District.
Under a 10-year plan, the government has allocated a budget of Rs900 million to outsource the facilities, according to which each hospital will receive Rs150 million per year. The contracting NGO must hire staff and guarantee full services in hospitals.
Movement aimed at providing better medical care to the local population.
Except for the hospital in Dera Ismail Khan, all facilities, which are being outsourced, have been built by the Pakistan Army, but the government is struggling to ensure the presence of staff there, since patients suffer due to the absence of workers of health in the facilities.
Authorities said two years ago the government had devised a similar plan but could not materialize due to legal complications. Now, after the merger of tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the health foundation is mandated to facilitate the public-private partnership program through a legal process, ”they added.
Previously, even senior officials in the former Fata had opposed the program because it stopped.
Authorities said there was no example of such agreements in the old Fata or any procedure, but the governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa approved it for the sake of patient care.
They said that Fata's health management found it difficult to guarantee the presence of staff, particularly medical specialists and female staff, in hospitals to provide medical care to tribal people.
Authorities said most of the employees in the tribal districts were not willing to work there and forced people to transport their patients to the adjacent districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, even for minor ailments.
The government has deployed some 9,000 employees to work in 979 health centers in all tribal districts, but hospital performance did not reach the desired level. There were 108 sanctioned positions of medical specialists in tribal districts, of which 80 were vacant because they were unable to work with government-approved salaries, authorities said.
"The same goes for 50 sanctioned posts of medical women, who are not willing to be published there," they said. Around 150 positions out of the total of 200 health workers remained occupied. He urged the authorities to introduce the new mechanism to benefit people in tribal areas.
The Health Foundation will select the best organizations to work in tribal districts, taking into account their experience in the health sector to guarantee the provision of better health services to the population.
The contracting companies would hire the services of specialists and other technical personnel in lucrative packages, which cannot be given under government rules.
Posted on Dawn, September 3, 2019