Unchanneled money: 90% funds allocated to Mithi hospital still not spent

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014 5:19:05 by

KARACHI / MITHI: More than 90% of the funds released by the Sindh Zakat and Ushr Department to Civil Hospital Mithi – the only health facility that can provide basic treatment for malnourished women and children – have not been spent.

The department earmarked Rs2.5 million in October last year, while the remaining half was disbursed in January 2014. Of this, only Rs0.5 million have been spent so far. No one knows the fate of the rest of the allotted funds and these remain unaccounted for.

“We had devised a mechanism allocating Rs5,000 for a patient who is admitted to the hospital and Rs3,000 for each deserving person in the OPD. But unfortunately, this has not been followed through,” admitted the department’s secretary, Ramzan Awan. An inquiry has been ordered, he told The Express Tribune. 

It is unknown why the allocated funds were not spent on the hospital in November, which is when the child deaths began taking place – especially when the hospital is in a deplorable condition.

But news of these mishandled funds and other irregularities in budgets irked the Pakistan Peoples Party leadership, which decided to sack Relief Minister Makhdoom Jameel.

Later on Tuesday, after the ‘missing funds’ made headlines, it was reported that Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, on the directives of party co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, removed relief commissioner Lala Fazlur Rehman along with Jameel.

PPP leader Taj Haider is likely to replace the latter but as an adviser.

State of the hospitals

Separately, a newly deputed doctor informed The Express Tribune, “We can’t admit all the patients but they need complete care immediately.”  Shaking his head, he said, “They aren’t treated well here. Patients aren’t given proper treatment or medicine.”

One staff member confirmed, “Patients are given a few of whatever tablets and syrups are available.”

The civil hospital does not even have separate wards for children or ICU patients.

Bachayo, who came to the hospital along with her seven-month-old daughter, said, “A doctor at a camp told me that my child needs to be admitted, but the hospital says there is no vacancy.”

Some mothers, waiting outside the hospital for help, said they prefer staying at home “What do we get from these hospitals anyway?” said Pari, who had a 14-month-old child.

No gynaecologist in district

Apart from hospitals being incapable of providing basic health facilities, there is no permanent gynaecologist in the entire district, which spans over 22,000sq km.

“A local NGO has arranged for a gynaecologist in Mithi hospital. They pay her salary. But the government has not appointed any permanent lady doctor for this post,” said local journalist Sajjid Bajeer. But PPP MPA Dr Khatu Mal Jewan, who has been elected seven times from Thar, said that lady doctors are not willing to serve in deserted areas. “Hundreds of lady doctors belonging to Tharparkar have done their graduation and post-graduation. We have offered them double the salaries offered in Karachi, but no one willing to stay here.”

SHC calls for to inquiry

The Sindh High Court (SHC) directed two district and sessions judges to visit the areas affected by the drought and inquire into the deaths of more than 200 people and the ongoing relief work by the federal and provincial government authorities.

Headed by SHC Chief Justice Maqbool Baqar, the bench also issued notices to various federal and provincial government authorities and relief agencies to file their comments by March 13 on a petition pleading to order the registration of criminal cases against officers responsible for the catastrophe.

Two social welfare organisations – the Pakistan Institute of Labour, Education and Research (PILER) and the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) – and human rights activist Advocate Javed Iqbal Barki had gone to seek an inquiry into more than 200 drought-related deaths recently reported.

Justice Baqar ordered concerned district and sessions judges to submit their respective reports to the SHC by the next date of hearing.

President extends support

President Mamnoon Hussain extended the federal government’s help to the people of Thar and assured the Sindh provincial government of his all-out support. He was chairing a meeting held to review the latest situation in drought-hit district and the relief and rehabilitation activities.

The president said stern action should be taken against those responsible for negligence in the wheat distribution amongst the residents. (With additional reporting from )


Published in The Express Tribune, March 12th, 2014.

Karachi News Sources -2

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