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Probe body unearths billions of rupees corruption in Umerkot health dept

Probe body unearths billions of rupees corruption in Umerkot health dept

UMERKOT: The district inquiry committee formed by the provincial government to probe corruption in the Umerkot health department released its report on the occasion of the World Anti-Corruption Day on Wednesday, unveiling massive corruption running into billions of rupees, mismanagement and violation of laws and demanding action against the culprits.

The committee was formed by the Umerkot deputy commissioner and later endorsed by the Chief Minister’s Inspection Team (CMIT) in the wake of a news story about a large quantity of expired and unexpired drugs which were found dumped at the main drug store near Hyder Farm and a sub-store in an eye hospital on Aug 20.

The committee members, health department officials and civil society members, led by CMIT coordinator Haji Muzaffar Hussain Shujra, visited Umerkot on Sept 30 and collected evidence.

It found during investigation into the dumped medicines stark violation of the relevant rules of the Sindh Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (SPPRA) in the purchase of medicines by the DHO office and that too with the approval the secretary of health.

It witnessed that drugs were procured in excess without formation of procurement committee, ‘drug testing certificate’, which was mandatory in order to check the quality and standard of a medicine, was not obtained for any drug before purchase and substandard medicines were bought and handed out to patients.

The committee observed manipulation in record and found that cold chain management of life-saving drugs was not maintained at the main drug store at Hyder Farm which also lacked required equipment and alternate power supply to ensure safe storage of drugs.

At taluka headquarters hospital Kunri, the committee observed that the medicines that should be properly stored with maintenance of cold chain for efficacy were lying in the open. There was no proper arrangement to discard expired medicines and the missing record showed that the expired drugs were being used.

The committee was shocked to find that purchasing, management and distribution of medicines was being handled by low-ranking, unauthorised employees of the health department.

The committee recommended departmental action against the officers it found involved in playing with lives and damaging national exchequer.

Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2015

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