Nabeel Anwar Dhakku
CHAKWAL: As it goes ahead with revamping all district tehsil headquarter hospitals in the province, the Punjab government has also taken many by surprise after deciding to improve the buildings which are in good condition.
For instance, District Headquarter (DHQ) Hospital Chakwal’s building was only upgraded in 2013 at the cost of Rs104 million and it is now being revamped for Rs385 million.
Also, health department officials and parliamentarians of the district were not informed about the project being carried out at the largest public sector hospital of the district.
The Punjab government is revamping 40 hospitals in the current fiscal year under the newly established Infrastructure Development Authority of Punjab (IDAP).
Local politicians, health department officials were not told about the project
IDAP is an autonomous body and has a board of authority chaired by Provincial Minister for Housing and Urban Development Malik Tanveer Aslam Awan.
Two members of the Punjab Assembly and 14 bureaucrats are its members. The general perception is that the authority is not run by the board but by its CEO, Mujahid Sherdil, who is the son of former Punjab chief secretary Atharul Zaman Khan Sherdil, a close friend and aide of the Sharif family.
IDAP has been tasked with revamping and building new hospitals and other buildings in the province and has been given billions of rupees for this. But the chairperson of its board of authority, Malik Tanveer Aslam Awan said he was not aware of the authority’s projects when asked about the revamping of the DHQ Hospital, Chakwal.
“I do not know what is going on. I will be able to comment after looking into the matter,” he said.
When contacted, Chakwal MNA Tahir Iqbal also said he did not know anything about the revamping of the hospital.
MNA Iffat Liaquat’s son Chaudhry Haider Sultan said his mother was given funds for upgrading the hospital in 2013 and that he does not know about the current project.
Even the District Health Authority’s (DHA) CEO Dr Amjad Ali and the medical superintended (MS) of the hospital did not know details of the project.
When asked about the project, Dr Ali said the hospital’s medical superintendent will know and that such decisions are taken by the chief minister.
DHQ Hospital MS Dr Qaiser Rasheed said the hospital was being revamped for the betterment of the public.
“The building, doors, windows, washrooms and laboratories will be upgraded so people will get the best facilities, he said, though he did not know more details.
“I do not know how much the project will cost or other details,” he said.
The IDAP website says: “The Government of Punjab is making strenuous efforts for a better and effective health care system. The major challenge for primary and secondary health department is to boost the confidence of the general public in the primary healthcare system. The reality is that most of the institutions at secondary level are not currently providing healthcare services up to the desired level, owing to multiple factors including large patient influx, scarcity of resources, human resource deficiency and non-functional equipment. With this in view, the department under the guidance of the CM Punjab has decided to launch a massive revamping of 40 THQ and DHQ hospitals in the current fiscal year.”
The website does not mention how much the revamping will cost. IDAP said the revamping was being done “due to lack of planning and monitoring, the past efforts did not conclude in the shape of an integrated healthcare regime, rather these have resulted in haphazard construction, poor maintenance, lack of basic facilities, absence of waiting areas and a shabby outlook. Resultantly, patients prefer to visit tertiary level hospitals for treatment of even very common ailments”.
The website does not say who is responsible for the lack of proper planning and monitoring.
“There was no need for such a senseless move. The new tiles affixed on the hospital walls four years ago are being removed now and all the tiles are being broken in the process,” a senior doctor of the hospital said.
“Perhaps the government will import new tiles from Paris,” he said.
“Hospitals need qualified doctors and modern equipment, not grand buildings,” another doctor said.
When asked, IDAP Operation Manager Qaiser Bhatti said the 40 hospitals being revamped will be made model hospitals.
Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2017