LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif ordered the government to launch an awareness campaign against illegal organ transplantation.
He was addressing a meeting of senior officials to discuss the unearthing of the recent illegal kidney donation racket.
A fact-finding report about illegal kidney transplants was also presented before the chief minister during the meeting. Shehbaz was informed that monitoring committees had been established at every district to keep a track of such activities, whereas committees were also established at the division level.
The chief minister ordered the government to extend full support and cooperation to the Punjab Organ Transplant Authority to avoid such cases in future.
He said illegal kidney transplant was a huge crime and people involved in it were nothing but criminals. He said doctors taking part in such practices were a smear on their community and profession.
Shehbaz said it was unfortunate to witness people from such a noble profession engaged in heinous activities of this nature. He said the government would leave no stone unturned to stop these acts in the province. The CM reiterated that such criminals do not deserve an ounce of mercy.
He said that these actions were nothing short of exploiting financially-disadvantaged citizens of Punjab. He assured that doctors and paramedics involved in this act would be given exemplary punishment.
Shehbaz stated that the health department would have to become fully active to stop such incident from recurring in future. He stated the government should run awareness campaigns in the province.
During the meeting, the chief minister was also briefed about the formation of supervisory committees at the district level to stop the business of illegal kidney transplantation. Provincial Ministers Khwaja Salman Rafiq, Khwaja Imran Nazir, Chief Secretary Punjab, Chairman P&D, Secretaries of the departments concerned, health experts and other senior officials were in attendance.
At the beginning of the month, Investigators uncovered an illegal kidney donation racket and arrested six people, including two doctors, after raiding a house where unauthorised surgeries were reportedly underway.
Authorities say the gang was involved in selling kidneys to international clients, particularly from wealthy Gulf nations.
“A team comprising seven officials raided a house in Lahore and caught four people illegally transplanting kidneys to two Oman nationals red-handed,” FIA Deputy Director Jamil Ahmad Mayo stated at the time.
Soon after the incident, medics called a hurried press conference to condemn the atrocious act and appealed to society at large to raise the issue of trafficking.
President and CEO Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute (PKLI) Professor Dr Saeed Akhtar said if it were not for the Punjab government’s quick response in catching the culprits, the matter may have never come to light. Dr Akhtar said that those involved in this heinous crime were a stigma on the medical profession.
He stressed on the importance of setting up a centralised system that would ensure legalised organ donation and transplantation. He mentioned that such legalised systems exist in Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria and UAE, making them among the countries that have high organ donation rates.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2017.