Officials of the Sindh Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) raided the office of the Sindh Healthcare Commission at the FTC building on Thursday on complaints of extortion, blackmail, abuse of power and embezzlement of funds, seized record of inspections, registration and penalties, and issued notices to five top officials of the health regulatory body to appear before them and explain their position.
“Today, a team of the ACE raided the headquarters of the Sindh Health Care Commission and confiscated important record after we received several complaints regarding extortion, blackmailing, abuse of power and embezzlement of funds. We have issued notices to five top officials of the commission, including its Chief Executive Officer Dr Minhaj Qidwai,” said Zameer Abbasi, deputy director of the ACE, while talking to The News.
ACE officials said the0y had been receiving complaints against the commission’s inspection teams that they were extorting money and blackmailing private and charitable hospitals in the province. They said they decided to take action against the regulatory body officials after the latter raided an endoscopy unit at a private hospital and demanded a bribe from an eminent gastroenterologist.
“An eminent gastroenterologist who is running a charity unit at a private hospital for performing endoscopies was asked to pay a heavy bribe by the Sindh Healthcare Commission people and when he refused, they sealed his unit. The doctor complained to us as he was not involved in any commercial activity and he was running a charitable unit,” an ACE official claimed and added that they were also receiving complaints of extortion by the SHCC from various other institutions too.
He maintained that the process of the imposition of penalties, registration and inspections was very vague and threatening to private hospitals and charitable healthcare facilities, and many institutions reportedly paid money to inspection team officials of the Sindh Healthcare Commission to avoid any trouble.
He maintained that they had issued a notice to SHCC CEO Dr Minhaj Qidwai, their director inspection Dr Amir, Dr Ayaz Tunio, Dr Farhana Memon and Deputy Director Dr Sandeep to appear before them next week and clarify their position. He further claimed that they had received reports that regulatory body officials had also embezzled funds that were provided to establish their secretariat and run their routine affairs.
According to the ACE official, the Sindh government had provided the SHCC officials huge funds as seed money, but they established fake companies instead and used them to provide material and perform other tasks. He added that a widespread investigation had been launched against the officials of the healthcare commission to probe into their wrongdoings.
Dr Minhaj Qidwai confirmed that the ACE people came to their office and served them with notices to appear before them next week, but he added that he was out of the city and could not comment on the issue.
However, he claimed that last week, they had sealed an endoscopy unit at a private hospital in Gulshan-e-Iqbal where expired material was being used for procedures. He suspected that anti-corruption people might have raided the commission office on the complaint of the owners of that private hospital.