KARACHI: Auditor General of Pakistan directed Sindh Health Department (SHD) to investigate the matter of unjustified payments it made to four non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on the pretext of paying salaries to its employees. It was revealed in an audit conducted into the accounts of SHD that the department had paid Rs 10 billion (bn) in the last five years. In year 2014-15 the audit office had demanded a justification from the SHD for paying Rs2.8 billion (bn) to four NGOs through Peoples Primary Healthcare Initiative (PPHI). However, the audit report stated that the SHD failed to offer any justification or office record on the matter.It is worth mentioning that Sindh PPHI is a registered private company which manages 1,140 primary healthcare facilities through funding. PPHI was initially working on Public Private Partnership mode (PPP) with Sindh Rural Support Organisation and the Sindh government. Later, PPHI was registered under section 42 of Companies Ordinance, 1984. Sindh’s former interim chief minister (CM) Fazlur Rehman is the current chairman of PPHI. The institute focuses on improving healthcare in area of maternal, newborn and child health which includes antenatal care, labour and delivery, postnatal care, family planning, immunisation, nutrition, Basic Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (BEmONC), Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (CEmONC), laboratories, ambulance services and related fields. Moreover, it also provides services in the area of general OPD, eye clinic, dental clinic, emergency services, vaccines against snake and dog bite.During the said audit of office of Health Department secretary for year 2014-1, it was revealed that a sum of Rs 2.8 billion was paid to an organisation on the pretext of salaries of employees from BPS-1 to BPS-20 posted at different centres. However, Basic Health Units (BHUs) and Taluka Hospitals are under administrative control of PPHI but the organisation has no agreement with the government of Sindh. Moreover, expenditure was being made through DAOs and booked in Account-1 of government of Sindh instead of PPHI. Therefore, payment of salaries by PPHI could not be verified due to non-production of agreement.Furthermore, it was revealed that cheques from special deposit account (SDA) were issued to PPHI without obtaining utilisation report, bills, vouchers and other relevant record for audit purpose. Therefore, payment made to PPHI without agreement and record could not be authenticated. Former Public Health Engineering secretary Dr Riaz Memon apart from his official obligation has also been serving PPHI since 11 years in violation of public service rules. According to PPHI officials, Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) had also issued directives disallowing government service officials from serving anywhere other than their offices. According to officials, no governmental authority has taken any action in this regard. On the other hand, members Board of Directors of PPHI on taking notice of this irregularity have said that this issue would be tabled before next board meeting. In addition, PPHI officials disclosed that Dr Nighat and three in service secretaries of planning, finance and health departments were also working in PPHI on salariesThe PPHI members also alleged that Dr Riaz had appointed 26 officials in management, support pharma medical including consultants at Karachi, Hyderand, Mirpurkhas, Shikarpur, Khairpur and Naushehro Feroz PPHI offices. They further alleged that interview test of around 200 for sub engineer post were conducted at PPHI office in Zubaida Hospital Hyderabad and PPHI head office in Clifton by Dr Riaz. “The government affairs and business can not be held at private institutions”, PHHI officials maintained. The PPHI is being funded by Sindh government with Rs 20 billion per annum along with funds by World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international donors. Former IG Sindh and former caretaker Sindh Minister, Musthaq Shah, Dr Nighat Shah, daughter of former CM Qaim Ali Shah,, Tasneem Siddiqui, former chief secretary Nazir Memon, former Sindh Secretary Farooq Haroon, former PPHI Director Salman Sheikh, Head of Sindh Rural Support Organisation and Dr Saeed Qureshi, Vice Chancellor Dow University of Health Sciences are members of PPHI.Published in Daily Times, October 12th 2018.