Health department reshuffle follows medical officer’s suicide attempt

M. Waqar Bhatti
Tuesday, Mar 21, 2023

Islamabad: After suspending and reshuffling several lower-grade officials on charges of corruption, the Sindh Health Department has posted Dr Abdul Aziz Sodhar as medical superintendent of the Sindh Government Hospital, New Karachi, officials said on Monday.

Dr Sodhar, a senior medical officer of BPS-19 in the health department, had tried to commit suicide last week after levelling allegations against several officials of the department. Now he has been posted as MS of one of the major public health facilities in Karachi.

A notification issued by the health department reads that Dr Muhammad Ayoub Babar, serving as MS of the Sindh Government Hospital, New Karachi, has been transferred and posted as MS of the Rural Health Centre, Keamari, while Dr Sodhar has replaced him.

The health department has also removed Malir District Health Officer (DHO) Dr Maqbool Ahmed Memon, directing him to report to the department immediately. More officials, including the health minister’s personal secretary Faheem Ahmed Chachar and several other section officers, have also been removed from their posts.

Health department officials said Dr Sodhar visited the office of Health Secretary Zulfiqar Shah, along with his son and sister, and expressed his gratitude over the care taken by the department during his illness.

They said the visiting senior officer, who has been discharged from the hospital, expressed complete satisfaction over the steps taken by the health department for the redressal of his grievances. On his own request, he was posted in Karachi instead of his previous demand of being transferred to Larkana, they added.

PMA seeks stern action

The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) has demanded stern action against officials of the health department as well as the Peoples Primary Healthcare Initiative (PPHI), saying that Malir DHO Dr Memon and PPHI officials forced the senior medical officer to attempt suicide.

“The PPHI is a hub of corruption where no medical officer wants to serve because medical officers and other professionals are given neither complete salaries nor any allowances,” said PMA Sindh General Secretary Pir Manzoor Ali. “This programme is marred with corruption, and funds of billions of rupees are being misappropriated. There is an urgent need for a third-party audit of the PPHI.”

Ali claimed that salaries of hundreds of ghost employees in the PPHI are being drawn, while the funds allocated for medicines, medical procedures, etc. are being embezzled. He said PPHI employees’ salaries and allowances should be brought on a par with health department officials’ salaries and allowances.