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Health dept orders probe into purchases for Covid-19 emergency

Health dept orders probe into purchases for Covid-19 emergency

PESHAWAR: The health department has directed the directorate general (health services) to look into the alleged irregularities in the purchase of medical equipment and award of contracts during the current coronavirus (Covid-19) emergency.

The development comes on the orders of the Prime Minister’s Secretariat over a complaint lodged with the Pakistan Citizen Portal.

The health department has been told to complete inquiry and produce the report within 20-40 days.

The health department has procured protective gear, ventilators and medical equipment in large numbers during the last two months as the government announced Covid-19 emergency enabling officials to procure machines and equipment without following the laid-down procedures and rules.

Sources told Dawn that the health department had received a letter from the Prime Minister’s Secretariat after the Pakistan Citizen Portal received a complaint that the directorate general of health services (DGHS) had bought substandard equipment and machines from companies and requested to probe the same and save the taxpayers’ money.

Complaint about irregularities lodged with Citizen Portal

The complainant, whose name was withheld by the Prime Minister’s Secretariat, alleged that the DGHS had purchased costly items, which it pretended to be German-made though they’re made in China, while its prices were low on the market, sources said.

They said the complainant pointed out that infusion pumps purchased by the directorate were of poor quality, while hospitals had also complained about it after getting those pumps for managing the critical Covid-19 patients.

He also alleged that ventilators were purchased at inflated rate, while the company claimed they’re imported though they’re manufactured locally. There are also complaints from hospitals that the ventilators didn’t work.

The complainant also alleged that most ventilators didn’t have the required gadgets due to which they couldn’t be operated properly.

He also said the hospitals had been asking the supplying firms to send their representatives to make those ventilators operational, but to no avail.

The complainant also insisted that hundreds of thermal guns purchased by the DGHS had been rejected by the relevant committees.

He added that there were also reports that high-ups were trying to clear those items.

The complainant said most of the materials purchased didn’t meet the specifications set by the health department, so a thorough probe should be conducted to name the culpable officials for action under the law.

He also alleged that the officials involved in the equipment procurement process had been leaking the information about the rates given by other firms to the companies of choice to facilitate own people to give the lowest rate in the bidding process and secure the contracts.

Sources said the health secretary had ordered the probe into the alleged procurement irregularities and that the probe findings would be sent to the Prime Minister’s Secretariat within the stipulated period.

When contacted, health secretary Syed Imtiaz Hussain Shah told Dawn that he would update on the matter today (Thursday).

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2020

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