Musa Khan, a student of University of Malakand, was allegedly denied a bed in Peshawar's government hospital after a tragic car accident. PHOTO: X

Musa Khan: A grim reminder of K-P's healthcare crisis

Musa Khan's tragic death is a stark reminder of the urgent need for reform in K-P's healthcare and educational systems

Sabir Hussain June 14, 2024

The recent and unfortunate death of Musa Khan, a student from the University of Malakand, in a traffic accident, has highlighted significant flaws in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's (K-P) healthcare system. This incident, compounded by administrative negligence, underscores a pressing need for systemic reform in a province governed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for the past three years.

The accountability sought by KP Assembly Speaker Babar Saleem Swati, who demanded the suspension of the university’s provost and proctor, is a crucial first step. However, it barely scratches the surface of deeper, systemic issues that must be addressed.

Musa, a journalism student, was reportedly expelled from his hostel late at night for the trivial offence of playing Rabab. Tragically, he met with a fatal accident soon after. The circumstances surrounding his death – being turned away from a fully occupied Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC) in Peshawar and eventually succumbing to his injuries due to a lack of timely medical intervention – raise serious questions about the adequacy and preparedness of K-P's healthcare facilities.

Despite claims from K-P Health Minister Qasim Ali Shah about improvements in the province's health services and a decreased need to refer patients to Peshawar, Musa's case tells a different story. His transfer from a local hospital to the overburdened HMC in Peshawar, where he was subsequently denied immediate care due to bed shortages, highlights a critical lack of capacity in handling emergency cases. The health minister's justification that the referral ratio to Peshawar had decreased by 66 per cent fails to address the core issue: the province’s healthcare infrastructure is still woefully inadequate for its population's needs.

Former K-P Assembly Speaker Mushtaq Ghani rightly pointed out that a critically injured patient should have been treated on a stretcher if no beds were available. This basic principle of emergency medical care – prioritising the patient's immediate needs – seems to have been overlooked. The speaker's insistence that those responsible be held accountable is a necessary stance, but systemic change requires more than just accountability for individual errors.

The administrative failure at the University of Malakand, which saw Musa expelled from the hostel under questionable circumstances, further exacerbates the issue. The speaker’s directive to suspend the university's provost and proctor until an inquiry is completed is appropriate, yet this action alone is insufficient. There needs to be a thorough investigation into the university's handling of student welfare and the influence of political groups within its administration. Such influences often lead to decisions that are not in the best interest of the students.

Musa’s death has sparked protests and calls for justice, reflecting a broader discontent with the province's healthcare and administrative systems. The protestors, demanding accountability and reform, are a testament to the public’s frustration. Higher Education Minister Meena Khan Afridi’s response, while promising an inquiry, must translate into concrete actions and systemic reforms.

The tragic event should serve as a wake-up call for the PTI-led government of K-P. While the government claims improvements in healthcare, the ground reality, as illustrated by Musa’s case, is starkly different. Overburdened hospitals, inadequate emergency care, and administrative negligence paint a grim picture of the province's healthcare and educational institutions.

Firstly, there needs to be a significant investment in healthcare infrastructure. Building more hospitals and expanding existing ones like HMC to handle higher patient loads is imperative. Emergency departments, in particular, should be equipped to handle critical cases without unnecessary referrals, ensuring that no patient is turned away due to capacity issues.

Secondly, there must be a revamp of administrative protocols in educational institutions. Universities should have clear guidelines for student discipline that prioritise student safety and welfare. Expelling a student late at night for a minor infraction is not only irresponsible but dangerous, as evidenced by Musa’s fate. There should be an independent body to oversee and handle such issues, ensuring decisions are made in the best interest of the students.

Finally, the government must ensure accountability, not just through suspensions and inquiries but through lasting policy changes. Healthcare and education are critical sectors that require consistent oversight and improvement. The public's trust can only be restored through transparent, effective, and empathetic governance.

Musa Khan's tragic death is a stark reminder of the urgent need for reform in K-P's healthcare and educational systems. The PTI-led government must take this tragedy as a catalyst for change, addressing the systemic flaws that have been highlighted. While the immediate suspensions and inquiries are steps in the right direction, long-term solutions are necessary to prevent such incidents in the future. The people of K-P deserve better, and it is the government's responsibility to ensure that such a tragedy does not repeat itself.

Sabir Hussain

The author, a journalist and editor at Sunrise Today based in Islamabad, covers science & technology, climate change, environmental issues, energy crisis, public health, education, Afghan refugees and international affairs. The writer tweets @EngSabirHussain

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


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