Public health lab's employees not regularised despite CM's promise.

PESHAWAR -- The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government hasn't granted permanent service status to contractual employees of the Public Health Reference Lab, Peshawar, even six months after Chief Minister Mahmood Khan promised them job regularisation.

Officials at the health department toldDawnthat Chief Minister Mahmood Khan had announced during a function in July last year that his government would regularise the services of the contractual staff members of the PHRL, but no action had been taken on the announcement since then.

They said the PHRL was established at the public sector Khyber Medical University in 2015 with the health department declaring it a move to strengthen surveillance of 41 infectious diseases and take preventive action against their outbreaks.

Officials said in early 2020, the lab not only began Covid-19 testing but also helped the health department set up 12 PCR labs in districts to diagnose the virus within days of tests unlike Islamabad's National Institute of Health, which took weeks to come up with reports on the samples sent by the province.

Health secretary insists regularisation process in progress

They said after the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the PHRL recruited 65 staff members, including doctors, paramedics and medical technicians, to strengthen the virus diagnosis and take appropriate measures for the prevention and control of the virus.

Officials said that there was a greater likelihood of the health department abolishing the PHLR after the formal announcement of an end to Covid-19 pandemic and if that happened, it would adversely affect the health department's strategy to diagnose cholera, dengue, typhoid and other diseases.

They said the government was required to regularise the lab's contractual employees, who had already been trained in disease investigations.

The officials said the NIH had formally declared that all tests done by it could be carried out by the PHRL.

They said overall, 5.3 million PCR tests for Covid-19 were reported in the province and four million were conducted by the PHRL free of charge with Rs250 million spent on the latter though the private labs would have charged Rs8 billion for them.

The officials said the lab also received samples for tests of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever and influenza, including cholera, measles, Congo fever and influenza, so it should be strengthened as part of efforts to prevent disease outbreaks.

They said the lab had helped disease prevention and...

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