By Zulfiqar Ahmad
ISLAMABAD: Chief Secretary Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Naveed Kamran Baloch during his visit to Chitral was all praise for the Aga Khan Health Service (AKHS) for providing basic healthcare facilities to the people at their doorsteps in remote parts of the valley under the public-private partnership programme.
Dr Zafar Ahmad, head of Community Health and Government Relations of AKHS, briefed the chief secretary that the organization had started maternal and child healthcare programme in collaboration with the government in 2004 which was extended for a period of five years in 2008.
The chief secretary was told that in 2007 a high-level committee of provincial health department headed by the additional health secretary along with a team of health sector reforms unit conducted an evaluation of the facility.
After expressing satisfaction over provision of health facilities to the people, the team asked the AKHS to sign a formal agreement with the provincial government to provide the facilities at the rural health centres.
The AKHS signed a MoU with the provincial government for a period of five years – 2008-2012. The chief secretary was told that after an evaluation, the health sector reforms unit at the end of 2012 recommended to extend the MoU for another five years – 2013 to 2019.
The chief secretary, the health secretary and other top officials of the provincial government lauded the services of AKHS in far-flung areas of the valley, where public sector hospitals had miserably failed to provide quality healthcare to people.
During the visit to Rural Health Centre (RHC) Shagram, the chief secretary lauded the services of AKHS, saying: “This is perhaps the best example of private-public partnership”.
After seeing a female doctor from Sindh performing duty in the remote village, the chief secretary said it was commendable to see doctors from different parts of the country serving people in the far-off area of Chitral.
The people of the area lauded the services of AKHS. They, however, regretted that political elements were trying to make the programme controversial for their own vested interest.
Talking to this correspondent over the phone, Abdul Qayum Baig, chairman of the local health committee, said politicians bent upon exploiting people by shedding “crocodile tears” under the pretext of “exorbitant fee” must not forget that it was people like them due to which “stray dogs, goats, sheep, cows, etc’ could be seen roaming on premises of state-run hospitals.
In an obvious reference to the politicians, Mr Baig said: “If you are man enough, why there is a shortage of doctors at DHQ Chitral and THQ Booni? Why nobody is listening to you?”
He said the lawmakers and those talking tall by enjoying perks and privileges of the government must not forget that if people were suffering it was because of them as they had failed to highlight the public issues.
“These so-called public representatives have nothing to do with the miseries of people living in this backward area, and what they want is exploitation of people for their own vested,” he lamented.