Bid to improve health facilities with partner NGOs suffers from red tape
KARACHI: An ambitious project to improve ailing health facilities and better the aggravating health delivery system in Sindh is still waiting to be formally launched despite a lapse of three months since approval. The provincial government had signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with selected non-governmental organisations at Chief Minister House in March with the approval of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah.
Officials said the public-private partnership (PPP) unit of the Sindh health department conceived a project aimed at providing improved health delivery services to the people called “Public Private Partnership Contracts in Health” and had issued tenders in December 2013.
The authorities invited ‘expressions of interest’ from interested non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with good reputation and around 30 showed their interest in the project, officials said.
Subsequently, the requests for proposal (RFPs) were issued to 12 interested NGOs, from which five were finalised. Four NGOs were to maintain, improve and run health facilities while the fifth was responsible for running community ambulance services.
More than 15 health facilities including rural health centres (RHCs), taluka headquarters (THQ) and district headquarters (DHQ) hospitals in Thatta and Sujawal districts were to be handed over to Merlin International.
The RHCs of all districts excluding those already run by the People’s Primary Healthcare Initiative (PPHI) were to be handed over to Integrated Health Services (IHS) starting from Larkana. DHQ Badin was to be handed over to Indus Hospital and more than 23 health facilities in Bin Qasim and Gadap towns were to be handed over to Health and Nutrition Development Society (HANDS).
The Aman Foundation was awarded the mandate to run community ambulance services initially in Thatta and Sajawal districts and then in the rest of the province. The service called Sindh Ambulance Service is expected to reach a given spot in 15 to 20 minutes for the time information is received, officials said.
After being approved by PPP Policy Board headed by the chief minister and composed of members including ministers of health and finance, the MoUs were finalised in February, 2015 and the signing ceremony was held at the CM House in March.
As per the MoU, the provincial health department was to complete all formalities and hand over the health facilities to the partners within a month but this has not yet materialised.
As per the government’s decision, a block allocation of more than Rs500 million was to be released in the last quarter of the current fiscal to the partner NGOs. As the current fiscal year ends on June 30, if matters are not expedited, the allocated funds would lapse.
Officials said they had received letters from some of the partner organisations expressing their concern over the delays in formally launching the project.
A senior official in the provincial government claimed the health department was working on the project and certain issues would be resolved after some formalities were fulfilled.