FAISALABAD: The suspension of work at 65-bed Gastroenterology Unit of the Punjab Medical College (PMC) by the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP) is causing problems for patients, especially of hepatitis C, as well as the trainee doctors.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan had ordered suspension of work at the unit on Nov 1, 2014, citing it was working without supervision of any CPSP-recognised gastroenterologist.
The unit was set up in 2012 with 45 beds earmarked for it at the Liver Centre established at the district headquarters (DHQ) hospital and 20 more at the Medical Unit-I of Allied Hospital.
Providing training in gastroenterology and hepatology was a major function of the unit that also offered treatment to patients suffering from gastroenterology, hepatitis and other liver diseases.
Prof Zahid Yaseen Hashmi, was recognised by the CPSP as supervisor of the gastroenterology unit, but he retired after attaining the age of superannuation, on Oct 31 last. Immediately after his retirement, The CPSP suspended the work at the unit on Nov 1 last, allegedly without intimating the PMC administration.
Sources said the CPSP acted in haste with regard to the unit closure, citing the case of Dr Tufail Mohammad, supervisor of the nephorology unit, who was still working there despite his retirement a couple of years ago.
A doctor, requesting anonymity, told Dawn that the delay in imparting training to the doctors attached with the closed unit would create problems for the hepatitis and gastroenterology patients.
He said specialisation in gastroentrolgy and hepatology was crucial to Faisalabad which had a high hepatitis prevalence.
He said suspension of work at the unit had disheartened the doctors who had been facing problems in patients management without the supervision of a professor.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says about eight million citizens of Pakistan are suffering from the hepatitis C virus.
The Allied Hospital administration had conducted tests of all admitted patients last year and detected that more than 16,000 out of 57,000 patients had been suffering from hepatitis C.
The patients screened for hepatitis C at the hospital had been admitted for different kinds of surgeries including lipratomy, laparoscopy, renal stone, gynecology, C-section, gallbladder, ENT and eye. People suffering from stroke, renal failure, cardiac failure and various lungs-related diseases were also among them.
The sources said, in view of such issues, PMC Principal Prof Mohammad Ali Tirmazi had contacted Prof Hashmi with a request to continue supervision of the unit so that patients as well as doctors could be provided relief.
Following consent of Prof Hashmi, the PMC principal had issued an order on Dec 5 stating that he (Dr Hashmi) would continue as supervisor of postgraduate students in gastroenterology till further orders.
The CPSP had also been informed in this regard with a request for restoration of the unit.
However, the CPSP administration paid no heed to the issue and refused to accept the letter sent by the PMC principal.
In an email sent to the under-training doctors, the CPSP said; “It has been reported that after retirement of Prof Zahid Yasin Hashmie, CPSP supervisor in FCPS-II Gastroenterology no substitute is available to supervise FCPS-II Gastroenterology trainees. As per instructions of the competent authority training in gastroenterology department will remain suspended till the appointment/approval of another supervisor.”
The CPSP had also asked the trainee doctors to opt for some other ‘approved’ department and supervisor for their training “in your own interest”.
The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) secretary Dr Mohammad Irfan said some CPSP officials were intentionally delaying the resolution of the issue for reasons better known to them.
Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2015