KARACHI - The Sindh Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee, on Wednesday, pulled up the Health Department for its inability to ensure provision of quality drugs to public hospitals in the province.

With Sardar Jam Tamachi Unar in the chair, the PAC meeting advised the government to set up boards of governors/management committees at all hospitals to better health services and make certain that quality drugs were provided to state-run hospitals.

Involving financial anomalies of Rs 689.024 million, 25 audit paras pertaining to the Sindh Health Department for the years 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09 came under discussion during the meeting.

The accountability committee declared 11 of the total paras – involving Rs 298.607 million – as settled, while the remaining were deferred as the department failed to produce the record of expenditures of about Rs 390.417 million.  The irregularities pertained to the non-deposit of Rs 19.502 million to the government exchequer, wastage of Rs12.283 million of government resources, non-recovery of government dues of Rs10.904 million, non-invitation of tenders for purchase of machines and medicines, besides irregularities in other expenditures to the tune of Rs117.525 million.

About the audit para concerning the drugs purchased by the Saudabad Services and other government-run hospitals, the PAC directed the Health Department to ensure that drugs were tested from the Drug Control Laboratories before being supplied to hospitals.

The PAC chief and other members remarked that it was an open truth that fake and low quality medicines were being supplied to government hospitals which, according to them, had drastically shattered the public trust.

Officials of the Health Department told the PAC that the provincial government had only one drug control laboratory, just 14 drug inspectors and was short of technical staff. They, however, added that the chief minister recently approved a summary to appoint 150 pharmacists through the Sindh Public Service Commission in a bid to carry out speedy testing of drugs and ensure provision of quality medicines to hospitals.

The PAC suggested to the government to evolve a policy, under which boards of governors/management committees be formed at the hospital level and that these bodies, comprising doctors, notables and philanthropists, be empowered to purchase medicines as well run the affairs of hospitals in a transparent manner.

The accountability body also ordered the SA Secretariat to write a letter to the Sindh governor to form boards of directors in all public hospitals. It also advised the Health Department to purchase medicines from multinational pharmaceutical companies.

The PAC chief meanwhile observed that health facilities in rural Sindh were not up to the mark, saying that doctors were not ready to fulfill their duties in rural and tehsil health units. He also called a report about government doctors working abroad without pay, and suggested that they be sacked forthwith.