In an “unprecedented rush”, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has “quietly” sanctioned an amount of Rs 27 million to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government as “feeding charges” for 4,500 policemen deployed for protection of volunteers observing duties for health immunisation campaigns but no public announcement has been made in this regard, Pakistan Today has reliably learnt.
Well placed sources and related documents have revealed that the amount was sanctioned “in haste” and the agreement was made within a span of few weeks. The amount would soon be transferred to KP government, they added.
Observers, however, see the move as a bid to influence PTI leadership, helping it to soften its strong stance on NATO supplies’ blockade by dolling out heavy funds to the KP government.
Concerned by the fast developments taking place, the federal government has approached WHO and UNICEF to express its concern and protest against direct contacts made by the world health bodies with the KP government and holding meetings with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leadership for assurance of provision of funds to the provincial government for running the immunisation drive and EPI Vaccination Campaign in KP in violation of PC-1 of the drive and against mutually agreed upon formula.
Around 47 percent of KP children did not receive routine immunisation last year, according to the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey 2012-2013 owing to threats from terrorists. A polio drive was supposed to commence from January 26 in KP province but was postponed after attacks on polio workers in Karachi and Mansehra on January 21 which resulted in the death of four.
Under Sehat ka Insaf, however, the children of Peshawar will be provided immunisation against nine paediatric diseases, not just the poliovirus. Under this campaign, more than 12,500 ‘insaf razakaars’ (health volunteers) will also distribute health education material and hygiene kits.
PESHAWAR POLICE CHIEF ASKS FOR FUNDS:
Documents available with Pakistan Today have revealed that the Capital City Police Chief of Peshawar, in a memo written to the provincial police chief of KP, had requested for provision of Rs 27,000,000 to help cover the expenses for breakfast and lunch of 4,500 policemen who would provide security to the volunteers of Sehat Ka Insaf for the 12-day anti-polio campaign.
Interestingly, the Peshawar Police chief did not bother to mention a date on the memo. Out of the amount, Rs 900,000 were sought for provision of breakfast to the 4,500 policemen at the rate of Rs 200 for each policeman for each day.
Similarly, Rs 1,350,000 were meant for provision of lunch for 4,500 policemen at the rate of Rs 300 each day; hence taking the total amount to Rs 2,250,000. So, the total amount was placed as Rs 27 million for 12 days.
Moreover, the Peshawar Police chief also mentioned an account number for the receipt of the amount termed as “feeding charges”. As per the letter, the account number was A/C C9-3 of National Bank of Pakistan, Civil Secretariat Branch Code No (0986).
WHO ASSURES COOPERATION:
In its communiqué sent on February 4 to Mohammad Shehzad Arbab, former KP chief secretary, Dr Nima Saeed, the representative of the office of the WHO, expressed the agreement to provide “feeding charges” to the KP government for the security officials for the polio drive, stating that the WHO officials in Peshawar had been mandated to enter into contact with the KP government for the provision of funds.
However, the WHO representative asked the KP chief secretary to meet four conditions, asking the officials concerned to open an official bank account in Pakistani rupees with at least two signatories; take full responsibility of the implementation of the activity; submission of the detailed proposal and a formal request signed by the senior-most official of the nominated department/authority and timely submission of reports (both technical and financial) as stipulated in the agreement to be signed by the nominated department/authority and WHO.
“Once the above are completed, WHO shall proceed to the next step. Meanwhile, we take this opportunity to assure our highest cooperation in this regard,” Dr Nima concluded.
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PROTESTS:
Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication Ayesha Raza Farooq has written the letter to protest with both the world heal monitors and funding organisations for directly providing funds to the provincial government bypassing the federal government.
PM’s focal person opined that it had been agreed between both the donors and the federal government that the executing ministry would be federal government and the funds would be executed through the same.
“For the sake of transparency and smooth disbursal of funds, it was agreed to utilise the funds through WHO and UNICEF as laid out in PC-1,” she said and added that if any new initiative had to be launched, it must have been through the federal task force on polio eradication.
She added that it had been observed that the UNICEF and WHO had established direct contacts with the PTI leadership and meetings had been organised with the leadership of the same political party for launching the campaign in a specific district of Peshawar.
“However, a new operational plan for launching a campaign by a specific district was designed and it was announced by a head of a specific political party on Friday, January 17,” she said adding that it was a violation of the PC-1 and the agreement between the polio eradication task force and both the organisations.
With an ambitious approach, PTI Chairman Imran Khan had launched Sehat Ka Insaf campaign last week, under which polio drops immunisation drive and EPI Vaccination Campaign would be run simultaneously.
However, the federal government sources told Pakistan Today that this was a blatant violation of the National Emergency Action Plan (NEAP) agreed upon by all the four provinces in January this year in the federal capital which had also been attended by KP Health Minister Shaukat Yousafzai.
“Under the NEAP, both the campaigns needed to be launched separately and the four provincial ministers, including Yousafzai, had agreed to follow this plan. However, later the KP health minister retracted from his version and the provincial government got funds from WHO and UNICEF directly, which is also a violation of the rules. Under the rules, no foreign donor agency can provide funds to a provincial government and rather only federal government could do so,” the source added.