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19 `ghost` health centres found in Khyber Agency

By Zulfiqar Ali 2016-06-26
PESHAWAR: An inquiry committee has unearthed 19 `ghost` community health centres and dispensaries in Khyber Agency, which have been functioning only on papers since 2003-04.

The inquiry committee found that these health centres had been opened in rented buildings and the owners of the buildings were paid Rs5,000 rent per month.

The secretariat is paying Rs1.2 million from the kitty only on account of annual rent.

In addition, family members of the owners had been appointed as Class-IV employees in these ghost health centres for Rs10,000 monthly salary each.

The official record shows around 120 employees including dispensers, dai and Class-IV officials had been appointed to those centres.

Each dispenser is paid Rs20,000 salary per month and dai Rs13,000 per month. Most technical staff members are non-locals and they were found absent from duty, the report said.

The Civil Secretariat Fata had constituted inquiry committee in April 2016 to investigate 20 health centresin remote areas of Khyber Agency after receiving a complaint that these centres did not exist on ground.

Apart from staff, the directorate of health Fata had also provided furniture and other necessary items to these centres but the furniture was found to be missing.

`Of the 20 community health centres and community dispensaries, 19 are non-functional. Only Shaheed Maina community dispensary is functioning,` said the report submitted to the Fata additional chief secretary for action.

`The committee inspected 13 centres, which were found in deplorable condition as furniture and other equipment were missing. The staff members were not performing their duties and even watchmen did not know the names of dispensers and LHV etc,` read the documents.

These centres were established in remote areas where local population has no access to basic health facilities.

Sources said health centres in Mohmand Agency and North Waziristan Agency had the same story and most facilities were dysfunctional, but a large number of employees recruited there were drawing salary. The report said most of the centres were established inremote areas only to bribe the locals.

Narrating physical condition of one ofthe centres,the ofhcialreport said: `There was no attendance register, no OPD register, no medicines and no furniture except two wooden beds placed in a room. Locals did not know about the existence of any health centre in their area.

The committee also blamed the agency surgeons Khyber for the existing state of affairs.

It said the agency surgeon was required to ensure the availability of building/ space as per agreement and subsequently visit the said facilities whether are feasible or not. But none of the agency surgeons including the incumbent took pain to visit these health centres and ensure availability of all facilities.

`The government has been facing huge financial losses since 2003 in the shape of building rent, purchase of furniture, equipments, medicines and salaries of the employees for these centres,` said the report.

The committee said there was a lapse on the part of the political administration, because instructions of the Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa regarding verification of the centres were not followed. The office of political agent Khyber Agency was requested to time andagain to submit report of absent employees, but did not comply.

The report recommended that all centres be `de-emphasised` immediately except community dispensary at Shaheed Maina in Molagori area because building of the centres were notin accordance tothe undertaking given by the owner to the government.

The employees were drawing salaries against non functional centres and the project itself was a burden on the exchequer.

It suggested that the amount spent on purchase of equipment, furniture and medicines for non-functional centres be recovered from the officers/officials posted during the period and the amount of rent from owners of the rented buildings since the establishment of these facilities.

The report said senior clerk Fayaz in the office of the agency surgeon, who allegedly deducted a sum of Rs40,000 from the salaries of 120 employees of these centres, should be directed to refund the deducted amount to employees.

According to the report, the incumbent agency surgeon neither deployed dispensers, LHVs and dai of the closed areas to any other place nor did he bother to inspect these centres personally.