The department of health is under scanner for funds spent on printing pamphlets during a dengue awareness campaign in 2016-2017. A committee formed by the Director General of Health Services (DGHS) in 2018 has concluded that the supply order of 30 lakh pamphlets, printed during that period, was issued without seeking necessary approvals.
The pamphlets were meant to be distributed in schools, hospitals and residential areas, and were printed at a cost of Rs 10 lakh. However, the pamphlets turned out to be of sub-standard quality, and many have not been distributed till date, stated the committee in its report.
“Many officers involved in the purchasing process were aware that the codal formalities are incomplete, but no action was taken. The supply was delivered late in the capital, for which no action was taken against officials. The pamphlets printed and distributed were of sub-standard quality,” said one of the members of the committee.
In 2016, a total of 4,431 cases and 10 dengue deaths were reported in the capital. According to sources, when the pamphlets were about to get published, the VAT on the supply was quoted wrongly by one of the vendors.
“The order was stopped in between and a memo was issued to the then DGHS, asking for a reason. Due to the administrative delay, the supply of the pamphlets was stalled. The quantity of the handouts was not checked either,” said a senior health official familiar with the investigation.
“Many of the 30 lakhs pamphlets have not even been distributed,” added the official.
Cases of vector-borne diseases are usually reported between mid-July and November-end, though this period may stretch up to mid-December, depending on weather conditions. The order to publish the pamphlets was issued only in August 2016, by when, officials say, it was already too late for an awareness campaign.
“The estimated cost of procurement was more than Rs 10 lakh, which was beyond the competency of DGHS and Secretary (Health and Family Welfare). Concurrence of finance department should be obtained in such cases,” the committee report stated.
The Delhi government typically starts its awareness programmes in March every year and recruits volunteers to ensure that there is no mosquito breeding. After a massive outbreak in 2015-2016, the government has been focussing more on awareness campaigns as part of preventive measures.