ISLAMABAD: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government has decided to allow for the recruitment of officials from districts of the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in the provincial health department.
According to a notification approved by the province’s health secretary – a copy of which is available with Pakistan Today – “The competent authority in (KP) Health Department is pleased to relax the ban on recruitment/appointment in health facilities/offices to include the newly merged district/areas in the best public interest and with immediate effect till further order.”
Many of the 1,108 health facilities in the newly merged districts which include Category-D hospitals, basic health units, child and rural healthcare centers – are either understaffed or poorly equipped forcing patients to seek treatment in Peshawar or Punjab.
There is severe shortage of senior doctors in several medical specialties in government hospitals across the region, as around 79 posts of specialist doctors are vacant, while 50 posts of women medical officers and about 200 lady health workers and nurses are also unfilled in the former-FATA districts. The total number of vacant posts in health facilities in the districts is 815.
According to some statistics, there is only one doctor for 7,000 people and one hospital bed for 2,000 people, resultantly out of every 10,000 pregnant women, 600 die during deliveries, while 80 out of 1,000 deliveries result in stillbirths.
The National Nutrition Survey (NNS) estimates that there are around 40 percent of the children in the area are stunted.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan had earlier promised to extend health and education facilities to the seven newly merged districts.
The KP government also declared the seven districts as session divisions – where approval has been given to establish sessions courts along with creation of seven posts of district and sessions judges of BPS-21, 14 posts of additional district and sessions judges of BPS-20, seven posts of senior civil judges BPS-19 and 24 posts of civil judges of BPS-18 in the seven districts of the five divisions of the province.
The CM also announced the creation of 17,000 additional posts in different departments to be proportionally distributed among the former-FATA districts, where locals would be recruited.
This development has been welcomed by the people of the tribal region where the health situation is worse off than the rest of the province. The National Nutrition Survey estimates that three out of 10 people are infected by some disease in the terror-stricken region.
The survey also stated that 10 percent of children between the ages of two and five suffer from some sort of functional disability across Pakistan.