Friday, 3 December, 2021

Punish The Guilty

A recent investigation has unearthed that several high-ranking officials at one of the nation's prime health institutions were involved in irregularities, abuse of authorities and embezzlement, which make them worthy of due punishment. Owing to disregard for rules and regulations, these officials, indicted for their misconduct in the investigative report, have left the BP Koirala Institute of Health and Sciences (BPKIHS) in disarray in recent times. Following months of upheavals at the BPKIHS that witnessed its staff organising several rounds of protests against erring officials, the government formed an investigation committee last month. The committee submitted its report to the Health and Population Minister, the pro-chancellor of the now-beleaguered health institution, who later presented the same to Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, the chancellor.

The report pointed out that high ranked officials-- vice-chancellor Dr. Gyanendra Giri, Rector Prof. Dr. Guru Prasad Khanal, Registrar Dr. Mohan Chandra Regmi and Director Dr. Gaurishankar Sah -- were involved in improper conduct such as embezzling millions of rupees while purchasing health materials and constructing physical infrastructure. It is said that the health materials purchased by these officials have been gathering dust as they are of inferior quality. Some of them were bought needlessly. These officials were accused of making inflated payments to contractors while constructing new buildings in the institute premises. The irregularities committed by these high ranked officials has caused harm to the reputation of one of the major health institutions that was highly respected for delivering quality health service, apart from being a famous medical college for providing quality medical education to the future doctors.

As the troubles deepened at the Dharan-based health institute, health workers and employees demanded the dismissal of high-ranking officials. Following this, members of the senate, the highest decision-making body of the health institute, made a written request to the senate to investigate the accusation. Now, committee members expect the senate will take a call on the outcome of the findings, and erring officials will get what they deserve for their misconduct, leading to a slide in health services and education provided at the institute in recent times. The senate, which reserves the right to punish the guilty ones, must act on the findings of the report. Because of these officials, the chaos and confusion have gripped the BPKIHS that only tarnished the image of a major health institute of which health services and education were once much sought after across the nation.

Any due action against the erring officials, it is expected, would certainly act as a deterrent against many other health officials and discourage them in involving in irregularities that only put service seekers on the receiving end. Several reports suggest that millions of rupees at government-run health institutes are siphoned-off just because the authorities fail to take needful action against erring officials in time. The scourge of impunity has indeed eroded the image and standards of many of our public health centres. The government must not allow such a scourge to repeat at BPKIHS of which reputation received a massive hit just because some erring officials were allowed a free-run until recently.