$5.3m contract awarded to health minister’s firm
Ghazni( (Pajhwok): A multimillion dollars contract for the delivery of health services to residents of nine districts of southern Ghazni province has been awarded to a firm owned by the public health minister, Pajhwok Afghan News has learnt on good authority.
The Ministry of Economy recently announced on its website the project had been awarded to the Medical Management and Research Courses Afghanistan (MMRC-A), directed by Dr. Fairozuddin, son of Ghulam Mohiuddin,
But soon after this scribe took up the issue with the ministries of public health and commerce industries, the announcement disappeared from the website. Though this particular piece of information has been removed, Pajhwok has a snapshot of the webpage.
It was clearly visible on the 18th page of the website and 343rd table that the MMRC-A registered with the Ministry on july.30, 2007 under the name of Fairozuddin Fairoz. But now this could not be seen on the website of the economy ministry. Names of other organisations have also been deleted from the website.
Section 2 of Article 11 of the NGOs law statesthe president, vice-presidents, chair-persons and members of the National Council, the Chief Justice, senior Supreme Court officials, ministers, deputy ministers, the Attorney General, heads of independent commissions, departmentsand leaders of political parties do not have the right to establish or join an organisation.
Additionally, Article 151 of the Constitution categorically says the president, VPs, ministers, Supreme Court Chief Justice and members, the central bank governor, the spymaster, governors and mayors cannot engage in any profitable business for the purpose of fulfilling personal needs are exception to this provision.
Before changes were brought to the registration table for NGOs, Pajhwok shared the issued with Dr. Fairoz and economy ministry spokesman Babai Nazar Nazari over the telephone. The latter claimed the name of Dr. Lailuma as director of the organisation was visible to him.
Whenever reminded of the snapshot of the website showing Fairoz as director of the organisation, the spokesman came up with this standard reply: “I don’t know, the organisation is registered with me in the name of Dr. Lailuma. I don’t accept what you are saying. To me, information on our website is credible.”
However, Senior Advisor to Ministry of Public Health Hidayatullah Stanikzai acknowledged a few days after the issue was raised and before being nominated for the ministerial slot, Fairoz resigned as director of the firm. The position was subsequently taken up by Dr. Lailuma.
The organisation is stilled registered in Fairoz’s name, because the Ministry of economy has not yet brought any changes to the table. Fairoz was appointed as public health minister in February 2015.
Stanikzai handed Pajhwok a copy of the resignation letter, but attestation was not seen on any of the three pages to confirm its approval by the departments concerned. The resignation letter did not have a specific date either. But another computerised letter, dated 3/1/2009 mentioned the resignationsubmitted to the board of directors of the organisation.
Yet another document submitted to the economy ministry, dated 6/1/2009 and signed by Dr. Lailuma as executive director of the organisation, says Fairoz, the founder of the organisation, has resigned from his position and Dr. Hidayatullah Stanikzai has been appointed as general director.
Stanikzai says he performed his duty as general director of the organisation for a year before Dr. Lailuma was appointed to the position.
On the other hand, Dr. Lailuma says Fairoz resigned from his position in 2009 and Dr. Stanikzai served as director of the NGO till February 2014 and that she herself has been working as director since Feb. 2014. She also claims having a copy of Stanikzai’s resignation.
Regarding the processing of the resignation letters, she says: “We will inform you only when sendthese documents to the economy ministry. We are not returned processed resignation letters, so they ministry should give you information on that.”
Despite several contactsan requests, the ministry declined sharing any information with Pajhwok regarding the resignation of Fairoz.
Service delivery contract
On the basis of the NGOs list provided by the Grants and Service Contracts Management Unit (GCMU), MMRC-A was awarded the contract on July 1, 2015 for delivering health services in Maqur, Gilan, Aab-i-Band, Giru, Qara Bagh, Andar, Deh Yak and Zankhan districts of Ghazni. Under the agreement, the organisation would work in the province until June 2018 as part of the Basic Package of Health Services for Afghanistan (BPHS).
However, Stanikzai says the contract the NGO had been granted the contract when Soraya Dalil was public health minister.
Meanwhile, an official of the ministry claims the NGO still belongs to Dr. Fairoz and its activities are being handled with the help of Hidayatullah Stanikzai and Dr. Lailuma.
A former official of the ministry, requesting anonymity, recalls the health services were previously delivered by the Sanayee Development Organisation (SDO) before the contract was granted to MMRC-A.
SDO Director Raz Mohammad Dalili said says organisation had been working for 12 years in Ghazni .But MMRC-A got the contract in Jan. 2015 when Soraya Dalil was minister of public health. MMRC-A practically started it services in June this yearn.
“For reasons unknown to us, we were not shortlisted again for providing health services in Ghazni. With 12 years of experience in the field, SDO did not expect to be treated in this manner. The organisation selected has not enough experience and could not deliver services as effectively as we did,” he commented.
Dr. Mir Islam Sayed,GCMU head at the Ministry of Public Health, says a contract is granted to an organisation after the quality of its services, equipment and staff is evaluated for nine months. MMRC-A won the contract as it got the highest marks in the assessment.
Lailuma says the contract for health service delivery is for three year. It is worth more than $5 million provided by the World Bank (WB). But the WB office in Afghanistan, says the contract is worth $5.3 million.
According to the ministry, Fairoz was delivering consultancy services between 2005 and 2014 for the WB, Unites States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the UK’s DepartmentforInternational Development (DFID) and worked as deputy minister of public health (planning affairs).
Quality of health services
The deputy head of provincial council, Abdul Jame Jame, insists the previous contractor delivered far better services.“The health services delivered by SDO had few flaws, but the current contractor has so many problems.
“In the past, there were enough staffers in clinics, but now doctors are not available regularly. Earlier, patients were given different types of medicines, but now there isa shortage of drugs, or visitors are given a single medicine,” he alleges.
For his part, Ghazni Director of Public Health Zia Gul Asfandi says: “The organisation is deliveringservicesin districts that are insecure and that the NGO has limited experience, but it is still working. Comparatively speaking, the previous NGO was successful because it had enough experience.”
The director adds some employees of the previous NGO are working for the current contractor, MMRC-A.
It is obvious the SDO is one of the best and most experienced organisations, while MMRC-A also deliversgood services to the people, Dr. Lailuma believes.
“As you know, the people of Afghanistanalways complain. Although donorsdelay our installments at times, we ensure timely supplies medicine and food, as well as salaries of personnel,” she remarks.
Earlier, the MMRC-A had been working in the sphere of health education and health-sectorresearch, she concludes.
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