Sunday, December 18

Illness, bigger problem than poverty, Governor

Illness was a bigger problem than poverty as 25 percent people were ill, and the country was facing bigger challenges in the health sector, said Governor Punjab Lt.-Gen. (R) Khalid Maqbool, while addressing the inaugural dinner of two-day 5th Annual International Congress of the Pakistan Society of Hepatology on Saturday.
Khalid Maqbool, who was the Chief Guest of the ceremony, said almost five million patients of Hepatitis in Pakistan were suffering from lack of awareness about preventative nature of their treatment, which was a bigger menace than poverty. “The focus of health reforms has previously been on clinical side, while a renewed emphasis is now needed on its allied aspects, like pharmacy, nutrition, paramedics etc. Almost 25 percent of the population are suffering from communicable diseases and urged the doctors to raise awareness about basic health issues amongst the patients,” he added.
The Governor, however, said the health sector reforms programme of the present government had improved the health infrastructure considerably. He expressed the hope that the Congress would be a success, particularly with the presence of the international delegates.
Punjab Health Minister Dr Tahir Ali Javed, speaking as the special guest, said that according to an independent study, around 76 percent population in 34 districts of Punjab did not wash hands after using toilet. “Such unhealthy trends are contributing to the increase in liver diseases”, he said.
Punjab Health Minister Dr Tahir Ali Javed has said that the accused Dr Maqsood and Medical Superintendent Mayo Hospital Dr Fayyaz Ranjha will have to face disciplinary action on account of their professional conduct in the whole episode even if the alleged victim reversed her statement.
While talking to reporters at the function, he said he could not say anything with certainty about the whole episode unless and until the ongoing inquiries, at the level of Health Department and CM Inspection Team simultaneously, proved conclusive.
He expressed surprise as to why the girl would choose to withdraw her allegation of being raped by Dr Maqsood Hussain Leghari after originally creating the stir by coming out in the open with it a few days ago. He, however, did not rule out the possibility of pressure being exerted on the victim to revoke her stance.
The minister said that the CMIT was looking at all possible angles including the genuineness of girl’s signatures and timing of her discharge from the ward. He observed that the tampering of record could also be a possibility in addition to the fact that the girl was allegedly away from the ward for one and a half-day without prior knowledge of the duty staff.
The matter, he maintained, was of extreme sensitivity in wake of international glare and because it pertained to a quake-victim. He said that Dr Ranjha was suspended because he failed to handle the matter in a proper way and did not inform his seniors including the Minister and Secretary Health about it for three days.
Dr Tahir said that he avoided meeting the girl and her family to dismiss the impression that they were being influenced in any way adding that the health department had also made sure that the name of the girl was not taken in any press conference to protect her respect and integrity.
About the delay in medical examination of the alleged victim, he said that they had made arrangements of a forensic expert and a lady doctor to carry out the examination at Lady Aitchison Hospital in a discreet manner instead of Mayo Hospital. “But the girl refused to appear for medical examination”, he regretted.
On the accusation of Dr Maqsood that Dr Ranjha had provoked and used the girl against him, he said that if this charge was proved in due course of time, then it meant that Ranjha had made a strong miscalculation. He shrugged-off the possibilities of the return of Dr Ranjha in the mainstream service till the completion of inquiry.
The PSH President and Principal Allama Iqbal Medical College/Jinnah Hospital Prof. Sibt-ul-Hasnain Syed also spoke on the occasion and also presented mementoes to the distinguished guests to mark their presence. Dr. Arif Saddiqui conducted the programme.
December 10, 2005

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