Saturday, March 28, 2009

Rs 250m required to run facility: Abbasi Shaheed Hospital in dire need of funds

By Irfan Aligi

KARACHI: The City District Government Karachi’s (CDGK) largest public health facility, Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (ASH), is in dire need of funds.

The ASH is currently facing the worst financial crunch ever and needs at least Rs 250 million; if the funds are not acquired urgently, everything at the ASH will come to a halt, sources in the CDGK Health Group of Offices told Daily Times.

A well-placed officer of the EDO Health Group of Offices told Daily Times that the ASH has an urgent need of Rs 250 million. The gravity of the matter can be gauged from the fact that the EDO Health Group of Offices has not purchased any medicine this year and it is purely through the city nazim’s efforts that the ASH is still functional.

City Nazim Mustafa Kamal has spent Rs 600 million from CDGK’s resources for the upgradation of ASH and has been keeping a keen eye on ASH’s affairs, even opting to stay at the ASH twice a week, said the officer. Replying to a question, the officer said that the city nazim has now learnt of all conspiracies that were being hatched to sabotage his efforts and, presently, is battling to keep the major public health facility under CDGK’s control. He has also increased ASH’s annual budget from Rs 40 million to Rs 110 million.

Health Group of Offices EDO Dr A D Sanjnani has taken over the procurement of medicines and other technical equipment for the hospital. Actually, the EDO, as per the law, has the power to procure medicines and technical equipment using 75 percent of the entire budget, while the medical superintendents are legally authorised to use the remaining 25 percent. However, this is not happening and Sanjnani is managing all procurements, claimed the officer.

CDGK Finance Group of Offices Executive Director Munawwar Imam told Daily Times that all the liabilities for the year 2007-08 were cleared from the budgetary allocations of the year 2008-09. This problem emerged due to the late opening of tenders for the procurement of medicines and other technical equipment by the EDO Health Group of Offices. The tenders for the procurement of medicines and other technical equipment for the fiscal years 2007-08 were invited in May 2007, which was very late. The approval of tenders took a couple of months and then orders were placed. This resulted in a delay and the new fiscal year had already started. Therefore, liabilities for the year 2007-08 were cleared from the budget 2008-09, commented Imam.

A week ago, Mustafa Kamal had asked the CDGK Finance Group of Offices to arrange for Rs 150 million, so that the previous year’s liabilities could be cleared. The funds have been arranged and liabilities up to Rs 110.25 million have been cleared till date. The remaining liabilities would also be cleared in a few weeks time, said Imam.

Last years situation will be repeated, as the tenders for the year 2008-09 have still not been invited, he added.

Talking to Daily Times, Dr Sanjnani sounded agitated as he said that the finance minister could not deliver the required funds to the CDGK on a phone call. Replying to a question, he said that there are thousands of patients admitted at the ASH and they all get free medicines. The fund generation for providing the medicines free of cost is our headache, he added.

This scribe observed that the patients reporting at the ASH were not given medicines owing to the lack of funds. The patients admitted in various medical and surgical departments are spending money out of their own pockets for medicines, as the ASH is presently providing them with beds and attending doctors.

The ASH A&E Department, Nephrology Department and Dialysis Unit, Medical ICU, Surgical ICU, Gynaecology Department and Paediatric Department are the worst hit by the financial crisis. There are around 2,000 personnel working in the ASH, including doctors, paramedics, technical and non-technical staffers, while the A&E OPD receives around 1,000 patients daily and the general OPD sees around 5,000 patients daily. (DT)