OTR

Print
off record
 
Shaukat Ali Jawaid
 

  

Purchase of
“Expensive Toys”
for public hospitals

 

 

Various mafia groups are operating in Pakistan in different areas, and the health sector is no exception. It is their greed and attempts to make quick money through various shady deals that have resulted in the injudicious use of the already scarce resources allocated for the health sector in general and public hospitals in particular.

They plan and then maneuver to supply hospital equipment, instruments, and other items, some of which are either not required at all or hold a very low priority in terms of hospital requirements. Healthcare facilities already have limited funds for repairing and maintaining the equipment. The hospital administration and others involved, including health officials, are also less interested in repairs and maintenance but are keen on purchasing new equipment, as it guarantees them more kickbacks and commissions from suppliers. Healthcare professionals also receive their share in the form of overseas training, including doctors, nurses, and technicians. As a result, everyone gets their share in the exploitation of national resources.

Against this backdrop, we would like to commend the recent decisions taken by Sindh Health Minister Dr. Saad Khalid Niaz. He has ordered the halt of procurement of robotic surgery units for public healthcare facilities. The question arises: do we really need them at all? The surgical procedures already being performed are more cost-effective. Not only that, the robotic surgery unit purchased by the Sindh Government several years ago, installed at Qatar Hospital in Karachi, became non-functional after a few procedures and has remained inoperative till today. Therefore, an investigation is warranted to determine why and who felt the need to order new robotic surgery units.

Another concerning aspect of such deals is that suppliers are often paid the full amount well in advance of the formal equipment delivery, facilitating the payment of commissions and kickbacks to all involved parties. Robotic surgery undeniably offers some advantages, such as reduced infection risk, less pain, and shorter hospitalization. However, given the current financial difficulties the country is facing, particularly regarding foreign exchange, ordering such equipment does not seem justified. It is high time to put an end to corrupt practices in the name of development, conduct thorough investigations into placed orders, financial transactions, and the reasons behind the non-functional robotic surgery units already purchased.

Members of these mafia groups are deeply entrenched in power corridors, and apprehending them may not be an easy task. Nevertheless, we would like to commend Sindh Health Minister for taking this crucial initiative and simultaneously holding a mirror to all those involved in the administration, health officials, and politicians. We wish him good luck. Since assuming his new responsibilities, Dr. Saad Khalid Niaz, an eminent gastroenterologist by profession, has taken several important initiatives and earned a significant amount of goodwill in the medical profession and society at large. 

Reference 

1. “Health Minister Stops Procurement of Robots for Government Health Facilities.” Daily Dawn, October 9, 2023.

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