LAHORE - Bureaucratic red tapism is delaying the provision of Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) funded vehicles to the field and supervisory staff of Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI).

Despite an approval from the Finance Department and the Punjab Chief Minister in August 2015, the purchase order for 40 single cabin vehicles and 1645 motorcycles could not be placed due to lack of coordination and indifferent attitude of officials at Health Department and Directorate General Health Services.

Since 2012, Punjab is getting Rs100 million share annually from the funds provided by GAVI for improving EPI coverage in the country. Out of available Rs400m, so far Rs40m have been utilised for setting up 10 cold rooms in Lahore for storage of vaccines.

The finance department has released Rs200m for purchase of 40 single cabin Toyota, one each for small districts and two each for big cities like Lahore, 45 Honda CG125 for tehsil supervisors and 1600 Honda CD70 for vaccinators.

Files continued to rotate between the health department and DG Health office for six long months with least interest of the health managers to utilise funds provided by donor agency for improving efficiency and movement of vaccination staff.

“Purchase order will be placed in a day or so as all the necessary requirements have been completed. Lack of coordination between Health Department and DG Health office caused six month delay in placement of purchase order for vehicles,” said an official at Health Department who wanted not to be quoted.

He added: “The DG Health did not show any interest to complete the process during his one and half month tenure. Now the process has been expedited to avoid fund lapse like the previous years.

“Hope funds will not lapse this year and Rs200m will be spent on purchase of four and two wheelers for District Officers Health, tehsil supervisors and vaccinators.”

He further said that another Rs50 million has been released from the GAVI provided funding for upgrade of cold rooms. “All efforts will be made to ensure that funds are not lapsed this year.”