KP applying different rules to health implementing partnersArchive
PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Department has adopted different criteria for contracting out management of health services to the implementing partners in the province, according to sources.
The health department has been contracting out basic health units (BHUs) to the international and national organisations who were authorised to spend salary and non-salary budget to improve primary healthcare in different districts.
They said that the contracts were usually awarded through prescribed criteria in line with the World Bank’s guidelines to ensure transparency and select best bidders through competition.
Currently, the People’s Primary Healthcare Initiative (PPHI), Merlin UK and Integrated Health Services (IHS) run BHUs in the province.
The sources said that the PPHI, which manages over 570 BHUs in 17 districts, did not come under the purview of the WB’s criteria of getting the contract through open bidding, but its contract continued to get extensions since 2008 when it started operations in the province.
On contrary, the Merlin and HIS, which manage two districts each, have been awarded the contract after floating tenders in at least three newspapers.
They said that in August the federal government didn’t issue no objection certificate to Save the Children for its alleged role in the fake vaccination campaign to catch Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, while the IHS was also handed Battagram in addition to Torghar on temporary basis. Merlin UK works in Lower Dir and Buner.
Both the HIS and Merlin are subjected to the third party validation and audits by the auditor general office.
This condition doesn’t apply to PPHI, they said.
Dr Nadeem Ahmed, coordinator of project management unit (PMU) of the health department, told Dawn that they had followed the prescribed rules for signing agreements with the Merlin and HIS, but the PPHI did not come under his jurisdiction.
Under the project, the government spends 75 per cent and 25 per cent coming from the WB’s Multi-Donor Trust Fund through the implementing partners who act as contractors and are accountable for the amount and human resources at the respective districts.
The main challenge is the procedural delays in system due to which the government relies on the implementing partners.
In the government’s mechanism, the officers concerned are unable to recruit staff or carry out repair work immediately in BHUs and they have to follow long procedures to get small things done.
As opposed to this, the partners are authorised to hire the staff and do civil works on their own which lead to improvement in the patient care.
The project, aimed at strengthening BHUs and improving primary healthcare through adequate medical supplies and presence of doctors, paramedics and nurses, has delivered in many ways like improvement in attendance of staff, supply of drugs and investigation facilities at the BHUs.
The sources say that Merlin UK is facing problems in getting funds on time despite getting contract through proper channel as it received funds in March 2015 and the contract was signed in April 2014.
The government has to release funds every four months to the partner organisations under the rules.
Last month, the PPHI was given three-year extension (2016-2018) before the expiry of its previous contract in January 2016.
The sources said that there was no fresh agreement, but an extension was given through a summary approved by the government in violation of rules because the organisation received the government and donor funds like the other two partners doing the same project.
It has also been absolved from audit of auditor general office, they said.
Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2015
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