NIH far from utilizing its resources, working without IT specialist

Senate body surprised over poor state of affairs at premiere research institute

Zubair Qureshi

Senate Standing Committee on National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination on Monday came to learn about the poor state of affairs at the National Institute of Health (NIH) the flagship healthcare/research institute. The institute in fact is a picture of utter neglect and disinterest by those at the helm of affairs and, sadly, not a single department was working up to the mark. The Senate committee meeting that was chaired by Sen. Sajjad Turi held at the NIH Conference Hall and was informed that a number of institutions and departments constructed on the land of the NIH were not paying their dues for years and according to a rough estimate they owed around Rs37 million rent to the NIH. Besides, two towers have also been installed on its land but they too have not paid rent since 2011. To the bewilderment of the committee it was told there was no computerized record of the payments the institute receives for various medical/clinical tests. The committee expressed its concerns over the fact that the institute even in 21st century was working in old fashion and no effort was made in the past to make it a modern research-based premiere health institute of the country.
The standing committee comprising Members of the Upper House of the Parliament— Senator Ashok Kumar, Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq, Dr Ghaus Muhammad Khan Niazi, Mian Muhammad Attiqu and Senator Khalida Parveen—also visited various sections and departments of the NIH and had a briefing over the administrative matters related to budget, recruitment and services being provided by the NIH. Dr Mukhtar, Executive Director of the NIH told the Senate committee that the institute was set up in 1980 by a Presidential Ordinance and is at present performing 22 functions. Currently, the NIH is successfully preparing life-saving vaccine, told Dr Mukhtar. The Senate committee suggested that in the 10-member Board of Governors of the NIH, members from each province should also be included. The committee also suggested that one member from the Senate should also be placed in the BoG. The committee was told that out of total 1055 sanctioned posts, around 344 were lying vacant and due to absence of staff the current institute was understaffed and employees were3 overworked. The committee members expressed their surprise when Dr Mukhtar told them that there was not a single IT professional in the entire NIH and the institute was receiving fee on the receipt book.
Senate committee was also briefed on the preparation of rabies, allergy and snake bite vaccines. The committee suggested that these vaccines should be promoted on media so that people could learn about them and also about the various types fever and their vaccination in advance.
The committee was further told that two types of lab courses were offered at the NIH after Matriculation and these courses were according to the international standards.

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