Suspects in K-P face punishment beyond kidney theft

Published: November 17, 2017
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K-P health secretary says parallel action being taken against all involved. PHOTO: FILE

K-P health secretary says parallel action being taken against all involved. PHOTO: FILE

PESHAWAR: Even as the FIA goes to court against a ring of illegal organ traders in Nowshera, they may face additional punishments after local health officials have recommended strict action against them.

The recommendations — by the district health officer against the drug inspectors, paramedical staff and others — were sent to the authorities after an inquiry into the illegal transplantation of kidneys at a hospital in Nowshera.

The hospital is reportedly owned by a drug inspector.

On September 27, officials of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) raided the Dua Hospital in Pabbi area of Nowshera and arrested eight people, including a surgeon, for illegal kidney transplants.

FIA said that transplant surgeries were being conducted illegally where poor people were offered money for donating their kidneys.

Having received a tip-off about the racket, the hospital was raided with assistance from local police.

A subsequent inquiry into the operations at the hospital by the district health officer, a copy of the report is available with The Express Tribune, stated that the hospital was not registered with the concerned department.

Moreover, the surgeon who carried out the transplant and his staff were not government servants.

The inquiry committee recommended that the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) registration of the surgeon, Dr Abul Aziz, should be cancelled while imposing a lifetime ban on his professional practice in any form. Moreover, the professional diplomas and certificate of all the paramedical staff involved should be cancelled.

“Strict legal and disciplinary action should be taken against Tayyab Abbas, a government employee serving as a senior drug inspector in Mardan under the Efficiency and Discipline Rules 1973,” the DHO recommended.

The inquiry committee has further requested that the FIA, at the provincial and federal level, to probe further investigate the matter and track others involved in this illegal business around the country.

Moreover, the DHO pointed towards holes in the registration process for health facilities in the province, noting that at the moment anyone could file an application and operate health facilities across the province.

The DHO recommended that the health care commission thoroughly vet applications before allowing someone to open health facilities in the province.

“The inquiry committee requests health care commission that only those people should be allowed to practice who are registered with the PMDC,” the committee requested.

“Since a case has been registered with FIA, it would be premature to fix responsibility on anyone, rather it would be appropriate to wait until a challan was submitted in the court,” the committee further recommended.

Meanwhile, the K-P Health Secretary Abid Majeed told The Express Tribune that while the FIA is proceeding against the suspects in the courts, the provincial authorities can take some parallel measures in this regards.

These include action against the drug inspector who allegedly owns the hospital in question.

Moreover, Majeed explained, they would report Dr Aziz — who is not employed by the government — to the PMDC for taking action against him under the rules of the apex medical council, including cancelling his licence.

Further, he said that since the support staff apprehended from the hospital too do not belong to K-P, they would inform the relevant provincial authority to determine whether they are government employees of that province or not and to take strict against them. Moreover, their particulars would be sent to all paramedical faculties in all provinces for punitive action.

“Yes, if they [lower staff] are private, the paramedical association will be told to take action. And if proved to be from Punjab, we will share the reports with the Punjab health departments to take action against those arrested for carrying out illegal kidney transplantation,” Majeed said.

Additionally, the health secretary said that the inquiry report will be sent to the Health Care Commission with directions to complete their mapping of private hospitals in the province, identifying unregistered facilities.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 17th, 2017.

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